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Extraordinary event meets exemplary care

  • Published
  • By Estella Holmes, Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs

Established plans and a career’s trajectory changed for one Airman and his family when a health crisis required they reach out for support from their immediate military community, and then further to the Air Force Materiel Command.

As Master Sgt. Carlos Fernandez-Martinez, his wife Ashley and their 7-year-old daughter Davyn were preparing for a permanent change of station move from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska to Okinawa, Japan, Ashley was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer requiring urgent care.

During Black History Month, Fernandez-Martinez reflects on the importance of having the support of a command which allowed him to remain focused on meeting the responsibilities of taking care of his wife and the mission. At no point was a concern expressed about the race or rank of the Airman with the need.

“From the very beginning, we learned the meaning of caring, support, and even mentorship, as my leadership stepped in and took over,” said Fernandez-Martinez, Command Propulsion Functional Manager, Headquarters, AFMC.

The Air Force response to the news of Fernandez-Martinez’s wife’s pressing need for treatment was swift. The only question seemed to be, “how can we protect you and get you to your next location?” Ashley’s diagnosis was received on a Friday, and movers were coming to pack their home on the following Monday to transition the family to Japan.

That process was halted, and a humanitarian assignment was arranged which diverted the family to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Shortly before the scheduled PCS, Fernandez-Martinez was notified of his promotion to master sergeant. With the promotion came the expectation of taking on more job responsibility.

“As a Command Propulsion Functional Manager, my job is to manage jet engines across the command supporting the depots and test wings with whatever backing they need. There was work to do, but I also needed to take care of my wife. The true test became balancing the needs of our family while putting forth my best on the job every day,” said Fernandez-Martinez.

He set out to do both to the best of his ability.

“At times in my career the challenge before me seemed too daunting. Ashley’s illness is one of these times,” said Fernandez-Martinez.

He describes the military community as “incredibly supportive” throughout, especially when his wife was hospitalized for multiple weeks.

“The focus for the family has become working, persevering and keeping things together while continuing to move with faith in the forefront as our strongest pillar. Reaching out to mentors and those who came before me was the key. I am now in the position to be a mentor and pass along knowledge,” said Fernandez-Martinez.

He confirmed the unexpected can happen, however when big challenges are to be faced, knowing there will be support from family, friends and the command allows for hope that everything will be okay.

“I am resilient and will continue caring for the most important things in my life,” said Fernandez-Martinez.


Note: This is part of a series of feature stories highlighting extraordinary military and civilian Airmen across Air Force Materiel Command in conjunction with Black History Month.