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Airman aids water crisis in Oregon

Staff Sgt. Brennen Hankins, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems Airman, poses for a picture by his truck July 13, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont.

Staff Sgt. Brennen Hankins, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems Airman, poses for a picture by his truck July 13, 2018, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont. Hankins delivered over 100 cases of water in his truck to Salem, Oregon, amidst a water crisis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jacob M. Thompson)

Displayed are 107 cases of water that made the trip from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., to Salem, Oregon.

Displayed are 107 cases of water that made the trip from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., to Salem, Oregon. The drive takes nearly 12 hours. (Courtesy photo)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- A 341st Civil Engineer Squadron electrical systems Airman recently traveled to his hometown of Keizer, Oregon, to deliver more than 100 cases of bottled water.

Drinking water supplies were contaminated by low levels of toxins, creating a bottled water shortage and increased prices of available water in the Salem-Keizer area.

Staff Sgt. Brennen Hankins already planned on going home for the weekend, but when he heard news of the incident he saw a chance to help.

“When I see a problem, I think, ‘What can I do to help?’” said Hankins. “I saw an opportunity and I jumped on it.”

Having already purchased several dozen cases of water, Hankins reached out to people within his squadron for help, said Staff Sgt. Melissa Melin, 341st CES electrical systems Airman.

“The response was overwhelming,” said Hankins. “I work with fantastic people. I asked for their help and they jumped at the opportunity.”

Within a few hours of spreading the word, he had filled his truck full with 107 cases of water. Contributions included some people bringing more than 30 cases of water.

For those that work with and know Hankins, it was no surprise that he had done this.
Those around him said they can rely on him to give a helping hand, both in and out of uniform.

“He has such a generous heart and is eager to help people out,” said Steve McSwain, 341st CES scheduler and dispatcher. “He’s always doing something to help people.”

It’s because of his trusting, hard-working character that allowed for his squadron to help him out, said McSwain.

“He’s a very hard worker and the type of person that would give the shirt off his back to help someone in need,” said Melin.

People like Hankins are a reflection of what the 341st CES embodies.

“The squadron is full of problem solvers,” said Hankins. “They don’t do it for recognition. It’s a team effort. When push comes to shove, they can be counted on.”

Though praised for his contributions, Hankins remains humble and appreciative he could help people out.

“In the grand scheme of things, I’m just a guy, just one person,” said Hankins. “I saw an opportunity to help and I took it.”
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