Misawa Airman provides remote disaster relief support

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jao’Torey Johnson
  • Misawa Air Base Public Affairs

A major disaster can strike anywhere, anytime. Victims are left helpless. Families fall to the mercy of hopeless circumstances.

For U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey MacHott, the thought of a natural disaster ravaging the lives of his family and friends spurred him to find a way he could help, even from afar.

MacHott developed a strong foundation of duty and service early in life as he followed in his father’s footsteps by joining the Boy Scouts of America. His family’s military history and his father’s job as an Army & Air Force Exchange Service manager also strengthened his passion for service. 

“My decision to join the Air Force was out of a sense of duty I developed as a kid,” said MacHott. “My grandfather served in the military, and the nature of my father’s job kept us around military families all around the world, including a stint here in Misawa, so the community bond and duty to service were always around me.”

Though MacHott’s foundation for serving others was well established, it was his interest in aviation that guided him to the Air Force, and that same interest also led him to join the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) to feed his passion and allow him to mentor others in the community while stationed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming.

Wherever he went, MacHott was quickly recognized by his leadership and peers as an outstanding Airman. U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jean Arias, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron section chief and MacHott’s supervisor at Misawa Air Base, was awestruck by his willingness and passion to help others in need.

“The Airmen around him have expressed that Tech. Sgt. MacHott is a great noncommissioned officer and even better human,” Arias said. “He is one of those individuals that just gets along with everyone and demonstrates exactly what a good leader should be.”

MacHott’s leadership described him as the embodiment of the Air Force’s warrior ethos, but in 2017 that resilient core was tested.

As Hurricane Harvey devastated Gulf Coast communities, including MacHott’s family and friends in the Houston, Texas, area, he found himself feeling powerless. It’s well known that being a military member often means going where the mission needs you and not always being able to offer immediate assistance to loved ones when disasters occur. MacHott found that unacceptable.

“I was stationed in Wyoming, so I couldn’t drop everything and head to Texas,” MacHott said. “It was frustrating seeing people I know at the center of this major natural disaster and wanting to help, but there wasn’t much I could think to do.

“That drove me to be on the lookout for opportunities to support when that next disaster inevitably hits.”

In his search, MacHott learned the Civil Air Patrol has a Geospatial Team that allows individuals to remotely provide damage assessment services for emergency management agencies. Joining the team tempered his feeling of powerlessness and offered the ability to provide some level of support to disaster victims, no matter where in the world he found himself.

“I’ve been able to assist with relief efforts in Kentucky, Florida, and Puerto Rico,” MacHott stated. “While the work can seem disconnected from the front lines since it is done remotely, the efforts of the CAP Geospatial Team allows other supporting agencies know where to focus aid and resources.”

MacHott admitted that dedicating time to assist the Geospatial Team can be hard to balance with family, graduate school, and work obligations, but the different perspective he receives from volunteering truly enhances his life in all three of those obligated areas. Improved compassion within his family. Increased work ethic in school. Reinforced importance of global bonds as he operates with host nation partners in Japan.  

True to his nature, MacHott promotes the opportunity to join the CAP Geospatial Team for the program’s ability to help others and potentially enhance the lives of those that volunteer, just as it did for him.

For more information on the Civil Air Patrol and Geospatial Team visit Gocivilairpatrol.com or https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/programs/emergency-services/cap-geographic-information-systems-gis