Red Cross honors two Robins members as Hometown Heroes

  • Published
  • By By Tech. Sgt. Shanda De Anda
  • Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs
Two Team Robins Airmen were among a dozen individuals and groups recognized for service-before-self actions at the Museum of Aviation Wednesday.

Staff Sgt. Melissa Erwin, a Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command communications network vulnerability management technician, and Senior Airman Skyler Bustle, a 78th Aerospace Medicine Squadron bioenvironmental engineering journeyman, have been presented the 2014 Red Cross of Central Georgia Hometown Hero Award.

Regardless of the hero category - humanitarian; emergency response; animal rescue; blood; workplace; military - each recipient displayed courage, dedication, concern or a conviction and something that moves or inspires people to do or be more, according to the Red Cross.

Erwin, who won in the Military Hero category, was recognized for her work with observance month committees, support to Relay for Life events, volunteering as a survivor and caregiver and laboring on Habitat for Humanity homes.

A post-traumatic stress disorder survivor, Erwin approached Team Robins with the idea to start a PTSD support group - an idea that was voted into an official Robins organization in support of more than 6,000 service members.

Being recognized as a hero hit close to heart for Erwin.

"I pour my heart and soul into helping others," she said. "It gives my life meaning and peace. [I know] there are others like me, and it's helpful in our recovery to know we're not alone."

Presenting that cause to the Team Robins Caring for People forum ... going above and beyond the call of duty to provide services that have a positive impact on members of the community is what made Erwin stand out as the military hero.

It also makes her stand out as a Citizen Airman.

Bustle, too, has been going above and beyond to help her community as a volunteer. Since moving to Georgia three years ago, she has been dedicating her time to Georgia Canine Rescue and Rehabilitation - a non-profit rescue group based in Cochran.

"I've always enjoyed helping animals," she said. "I'm a big animal lover."

No stranger to the animal kingdom world, the senior airman is the proud owner of a domestic shorthaired cat, a Rottweiler, a German Shepherd mix, as well as a bearded dragon. Meanwhile, back home in Illinois, her family watches over her other two dogs and cat.

"I feel really honored to receive this award, and that our work and dedication in helping to save animals around Georgia and the local area can be highlighted," she said.

Skyler has spent more than 3,000 hours with rescue operations, which can sometimes involve last-minute missions to unknown conditions to rescue animals in emergency situations. Since 2011, she has directly participated in rescuing more than 2,306 animals across the state.

Bustle also actively participates in weekend activities, including caring for neglected and abandoned animals at the group's shelter in Cochran and working towards animal adoption advocacy.