Devil Raider finds ways to enhance life for service members, families

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Luther Mitchell Jr.
  • 621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

Last year was a difficult time for most, but one Airman found time to give back and make a difference in his community.

Tech. Sgt. Kelly Young, 621st Contingency Response Squadron self-inspection program manager, over the years, has been a driving force in his squadron, helping those in need. 

“If you want to show someone you care about them, you can say it, or you can show it, and I believe showing it with time, money and effort is a great thing,” Young said.

Young routinely helps Airmen and spends countless hours volunteering in the community, including Holy Eucharist Church, Providence House and Habitat for Humanity. He’s always helping Airmen in his unit on and off base.

“Young is not a needy person, but he knows there are a whole lot of people who can use a little bit of help,” said Master Sgt. Chris Aversa, 621st CRS section chief and Young’s supervisor.

Young was instrumental in establishing the “Send A Hero Home” program at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, along with his friend, Senior Master Sgt. Pete Bondi. Bondi wanted to start the program at JBMDL after seeing the success Young was having with the program while he was stationed in North Carolina.

Bondi died of Cancer in 2014, the same year of Young’s permanent change of duty station to JBMDL. Young picked up where Bondi had left off after establishing the program with the help of his Knights of Columbus chapter.

“Whenever I think about the work and all that ... went into setting it up here in New Jersey, I think about Pete Bondi,” Young said.

The program pays transportation expenses for service members in the grade of E-3 and below stationed in New Jersey to travel home for the holidays. 

In 2012, the program sent home three people. In 2019, the program helped send home 224 people to be with family and friends for the holiday, he said.

“My hobby is working for the Airmen like a dad, best friend, and friend or sometimes just have an ear and listen,” Young said. “Send a Hero Home is just one of the ways we work for ours. Although it was a while ago, I remember being a young, broke Airman who loved their family but was not stationed close enough to make it home and make my bills.”

When he’s not home with his six children or flipping houses, Young is on the go working on helping others.

Recently, he helped an Airman who had two sets of twins eight months apart. To help with the financial burden, Young helped raise money to buy the family a stroller, assist with food expenses, and helped them enroll in the Women, Infants, and Children’s Program.

“It’s funny because I just answer my phone when it comes to all the people around the base we were helping out,” Young said. “It’s like one of those weird how would you like to be treated scenarios.”

Young has a set of twins himself and knows from experience what it means for people to receive help. During his wife's deployment, Young was left to take care of the kids and was stressed out, he said. 

The twins caught Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, and one required surgery. At the hospital, friends and coworkers brought him food.

“It was the pick-me-up I needed,” Young said. “What was great, though, is I didn’t ask. People came to help. My motivation is how good it felt when I was down to get picked up from all those around me.”

At the end of the day, Young doesn’t look at himself as Michael Jordan, just a jack of all trades with a passion for helping others, he said.

His leadership recently nominated him for the “Spirit of Hope” award, an honor given to individuals or organizations that epitomize selfless service and dedicated commitment to the military.

On top of all the projects he’s involved in, Young manages the commander’s inspection programs to identify deficiencies in his squadron programs to ensure they are mission-ready.

His favorite part of his job is the opportunity to talk to everybody in each section.

“He feels like his job isn’t to tell people what to do, but assist in helping people find the right way to do it,” Aversa said. “He’s full of love and admiration for his coworkers, and he’s talented without being in your face about it.”