Air Force Research Laboratory Remembers Fallen Airman

first_imgFrom left, Lt. Col. (USAF Ret.) Jim Mayo, Dr. Kelly Hammett, Karyn Newton, Stan Peplinski and Chaplain (Maj.) Craig Nakagawa at the remembrance ceremony for 2nd Lt. Guise Vander Linden Feb. 24 . Photo by Tyrell EtsittyBy JEANNE DAILYAir Force Research LaboratoryKirtland Force BaseKIRTLAND AFB — 2nd Lt. Guise Vander Linden was accidentally electrocuted Feb. 24, 1983, while conducting research in one of the laser laboratories at Kirtland AFB.Stan Peplinski, a senior scientist at the Air Force Research Laboratory, (AFRL), who shared a lab with Lt. Vander Linden, heard his cry and immediately sought and provided medical assistance. “Another colleague and I rushed to “Juice’s” aid, but there was nothing we could do to save him,” Peplinski said. “It was a tragic accident. I have anguished over his death many times, and I wanted to do something special for Lt. Vander Linden and his family. So I set in motion plans for the remembrance ceremony.”Attending the Feb. 24 ceremony were many scientists and engineers from AFRL’s Directed Energy Directorate. Upon his death, Lt. Vander Linden was survived by his parents Guise and Elodie Vander Linden and his sister Karyn. Remarkably, Peplinski was able to locate Lt. Vander Linden’s sister in California and she attended the service and participated as a very special guest.AFRL Directed Energy Director Dr. Kelly Hammett presided over the ceremony.“Today we are here to remember 2nd Lieutenant “Juice” Vander Linden who 37 years ago lost his life here in a tragic accident just down the hall in Lab 18,” Hammett said. “In those days, we were known as the Air Force Weapons Lab, and Lt. Vander Linden, a research scientist, was working for the Advanced Radiation Technology Office in the Advanced Resonator Optics Branch. Reflecting on this tragedy, we are reminded of the dangers we face in the field – and in the labs, securing our nation’s freedoms.”“Juice” was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. He was a Best of the Best Eagle Scout, a cadet in his college’s Reserve Officer Training Corps, and a 1981 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received a degree in physics.Chaplain (Maj.) Craig Nakagawa, a member of the 377 Air Base Wing at Kirtland and a fellow native Hawaiian, led a moment of silence that began at 11:05 a.m. – the time of Vander Linden’s electrocution. Following the moment of silence, Nakagawa sang a Hawaiian song named “Kanaka Waiwai” while playing the ukulele.“The song offers the teaching of what is important in this life and in the life to come,” Nakagawa said. “It expresses how the path to Akua (God) is found through love (Aloha) and example (living righteously). It gives a statement that is universal by its depth and breadth of meaning. Hawaii’s culture is religiously diverse; which is a pride of Hawaii. The song’s popularity, which has been recorded by noted artists, crosses racial and religious lines.”Jim Mayo, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, who was “Juice’s” supervisor at the time, was notified of the accident immediately after it happened. He spoke about that day and his respect and admiration for “Juice.” Mayo had followed the ambulance to the hospital and entered the emergency room with him. “With my hand on Juice’s left knee, I experienced those final moments in the emergency room with this young Airman,” Mayo said as his faced showed anguish and sorrow.Mayo related a meaningful conversation he had had with the lieutenant only a few days before his death in which Vander Linden had spoken of recommitting his life to God and asked assistance in preparing his testimony of faith.“We are reminded that we do not enjoy today’s success, without looking to those who came before us,” Hammett said. “We have a responsibility to live up to their legacy, as we build upon their discoveries, and see their dreams turned into reality. Knowing what we now know about Lt. Vander Linden, it’s clear that from an early age he was inspired to do great things.” About AFRLAir Force Research Laboratory is the Air Force’s only organization wholly dedicated to leading the discovery, development and integration of warfighting technologies for air, space and cyberspace. AFRL is comprised of nine directorates located across the country. AFRL New Mexico is the proud home of two of those directorates: Directed Energy and Space Vehicles. AFRL Directed Energy Directorate director presents Karyn Newton, sister of 2nd Lt. Guise Vander Linden, a directorate coin at the Feb. 24 remembrance ceremony. Photo by Tyrell Etsittylast_img

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