Wingman tale:
Wingman becomes savior on ski trip

Airman 1st Class Edward Drescher
Kaiserslautern American

Combat Wingman. Everyone has their own take on it. But during a ski trip in mid-January, two Airmen showed what the wingman program is all about.

On Jan. 15, two Ramstein Airmen set out on a trip to Interlaken, Switzerland. Senior Airman Jason Padilla, 435th Munitions Squadron, and Airman 1st Class John Ray, 1st Air and Space Communications Operations Squadron, have been friends and “wingmen” since Airman Ray arrived in Germany more than a year ago.

Two days after they arrived in Interlaken, the guys went out to hit the slopes. Around 3:30 p.m. Airman Padilla took a spill on the mountain when he tried to take a turn over a ridge too quickly, said Airman Ray.

“At first the fall didn’t look too bad, he only slid about 10 feet,” said Airman Ray.

After realizing Airman Padilla was injured, Airman Ray skied to him. Upon arrival, his initial thought was that it was a concussion because Airman Padilla was having short-term memory loss.

After sliding Airman Padilla down to more level ground, Airman Ray found someone with a cell phone and made an emergency call to ski patrol.

Ski patrol arrived in less than 10 minutes and had Airman Padilla on his way down. As they were bringing him down the mountain, Airman Padilla said that he thought his collarbone was broken.

***image1***After getting Airman Padilla off the mountain, Airman Ray was hit with a large predicament: Swiss law requires payment up front to transport a patient.

Without hesitation, Airman Ray dished out 1,407 Swiss Francs, which is more than 1,000 U.S. dollars. On top of fees for the ambulance Airman Ray also had to pay for an extra night at the hotel where they were staying.

Airman Ray also contacted his and Airman Padilla’s chain of command to keep them informed.

After two days in the hospital, Airman Padilla finally regained full awareness of what was going on around him.

Airman Ray and Airman Padilla arrived back home around 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 17.

“I stayed that night in Jason’s room just in case he needed to go to Landstuhl or something,” said Airman Ray.

After some minor issues, Airman Ray got his money refunded and Airman Padilla has since recovered and returned to work.