We Do Make a Difference Published July 21, 2009 By Master Sgt. Keith Dennis 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Tuscon Arizona -- Living in a metropolitan area like Charlotte, we seldom consider how different the situation is for citizens that live in many parts of the western United States. While we have fire departments often just down the street from where we live, folks in large tracts of Arizona and the great southwest can't dial 911 and expect that fire trucks will be shortly rumbling down the road with their lights and sirens blaring should a wildfire flare-up. We met such a fellow during our annual Spring MAFFS training. His name is Stan Dietzman and he owns a homestead near where our aircraft were practicing with the U.S. Forest Service. Drawn by the sound of low flying planes, he came by to check us out. Now you have to understand we he comes to check things out he doesn't travel like you and I, rather, Stan arrived on his trusty steed, Jesse, a 14 hands tall mule. And I must say, after traversing around in a four-wheel drive Jeep for a good part of the morning, only then to find that I had to lug my video equipment an additional mile so I could get to a good place to see the action, I can't tell you how envious I was. Once he learned what we were doing, he shared how a couple years ago a wild fire threatened to destroy all he owned. "Fire trucks don't come out here, if it wasn't for fire retardant being dropped by air tankers and MAFFS, I'd have lost everything." Indeed, he also said, "As taxpayer, it makes me glad to see that the military is part of the effort to protect my family and my neighbors." "In this part of the Southwest, we've had an increase in fires that are set by drug smugglers. They set 'em in order to create a diversion that can tie up law enforcement and emergency responders so they can do their trafficking with less chance of being caught." So while Dietzman, loves living in the midst of this amazingly beautiful desert, (he's made it his home for over twenty years), he truly understands and appreciates what we are doing.