BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. --
The National Guard Family of the Year Award is presented to one Army and one Air National Guard Family each year from throughout the country to recognize them for their exceptional service to the Family Program.
Col. Alexander ‘Snip’ Haldopoulos, retired commander of the 104th Fighter Wing Maintenance Group, and the Haldopoulos family, Cathleen, Logan, Brody, and Jack received the Air National Guard award for their volunteer service during 2017 on February 23 at the 104th Fighter Wing, Westfield Mass.
The work done by the Haldopoulos family is a reflection of Air National Guard culture that has a direct impact on mission readiness and morale at the 104th FW.
“When our members deploy they need to know their family is taken care of at home,” said Lisa Potito, the Airman and family readiness program manager at the 104th FW. “They helped make sure our families are as mission-ready as our members are and that’s huge because a member can’t focus on their mission if they don’t know their family is taken care of.”
Col. Haldopoulos also thinks that morale can be tied to readiness, saying that people are more likely to feel like part of the team when they are involved in something that is bigger than themselves.
“The things that Cathleen, myself and the boys could do to help out these people made them feel better about being part of the Barnes team,” said Col. Haldopoulos. “They would commit more and give more of themselves to the organization. So in that sense, it helps readiness, and it allows people to focus on their jobs.”
The Haldopoulos’ have given their time to help setup holiday events, assist Airmen in painting their homes, clean out base warehouses, babysit, introduce new families to the area, chop firewood and support families while service members are deployed or away training over the past decade, all while still fulfilling their duties at work, on base or in the classroom.
“I feel like we are being given an award as a family, but I honestly think we are representing so many Guard families that make the Guard what it is,” said Cathleen Haldopoulos. “It’s such an honor. There are so many families that help. That comes from service before self.”
The former maintenance group commander believes the time and effort his family has put in over the years stems from the supportive culture they were introduced to when they arrived ten years ago and that they have seen it grow since then.
“We’ve seen this base evolve from 2007 when we got here to now,” said Col. Haldopoulos. “The Guard has changed around us. We have become much more operational. The playtime on base has gone down. We have to recognize the mission here obviously changed. The amount of commitment operationally has changed. The volunteer work that these guys do it helps.”
The family said they hope they have done enough over the years to inspire others to get involved and keep supporting members of the 104th FW and their families.
According to Potito, that sort of a mindset is exactly what defines a member of the unit.
“They emphasize what it means to be a Barnstormer. They are all about helping out our military, whether you’re a pilot or a new Airmen coming in, they’re right there to help out the families, and that’s what it’s all about.”