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Military Connection: Inspired Service Pays Tribute

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By Debbie Gregory

Growing up, most kids aspire to be like their parents. Every child believes that success comes from making their parents proud. For Airman Treyton-Thomas Juopperi, his mother’s sacrifice inspired him to follow in her footsteps.

Army Staff Sgt. Carletta Davis was a health care specialist and combat medic who served multiple tours in Iraq. She was killed November 5, 2007 when her Humvee struck an improvised explosive device. Juopperi was shattered by his mother’s death. “I just sat there and watched my dad cry. It was weird to see him cry,” said Juopperi

The day Carletta Davis died, the Pentagon reported that the number of American troops killed in Iraq set an unwelcome record as the worst year yet, topping the 849 deaths in 2004.

Through his struggles, Juopperi began to see the importance of the sacrifice his mother made. Although initially angry at the military, and not having a gung-ho mindset about serving the United States, he thought, “Why should my mom give her life for the country?”

While thinking about what to do with his life whilst in college, Juopperi said he decided to dedicate his life to something like what his mother did- “Or at least half as good as she did” – he says.

Carletta was awarded two air medals, a rare feat, and earned the prestigious combat medical badge. She also earned a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. She twice received awards for heroism — for rescuing two soldiers who had fallen down a cliff near Ft. Lewis, Wash., and for rescuing a wounded Iraqi police officer.

Juopperi soon realized why his mother served, and decided to join the Air Force,, as she told him if he were to join the military, she hoped he would be wearing the Air Force Uniform. The decision came easy to him, and he promised himself he would not settle for mediocrity.

Juopperi went to Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas to learn technical training for aircraft electrical and environmental systems.

“Even in the operational Air Force, I will go forth and put 110 percent into everything I do,” he said. “Even if it’s desk work, volunteer work, training or a [reclassification], everything I do, I plan to put my best effort into it.”

With five brothers who look up to him, Juopperi says its important he does things right.

“You never know who is watching or whose life you are going to impact that day,” he said. “In the end, it came down to one question: What kind of person do you want to be?”

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Military Connection: Inspired Service Pays Tribute: By Debbie Gregory