Special Tee: Mississippi National Guard Members Raise $11,000 for Family Relief Fund at Airmen-led Golf Tournament

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jared Bounds
  • 172nd Airlift Wing

The Third Annual Fallen Airmen Memorial Golf Tournament was held at Canton Country Club, Canton, Mississippi, on September 15, 2023. A mix of current Mississippi National Guard members, retirees and civilian supporters gathered to honor the fallen, while donating their time and resources to the 172nd Airlift Wing Family Relief Fund, a grant that offers financial assistance in times of crisis or acute need.

“The 172nd Family Relief Fund is so important because you never know what tragedy or challenge will affect your family, or when it could happen,” said Master Sgt. Matt Davis, Fallen Airmen Memorial Golf Tournament organizer and 172nd Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation specialist. In total, 120 participants and volunteers raised $11,000 in just one day.

The fund has helped hundreds of Airmen and families by assisting with medical emergencies, weather damage to their homes and many other urgent needs, as well as by paying for utilities, groceries and rent.

“The fund has been a godsend as far as getting relief to our members who need it quickly, because we're able to get a check to them in no time,” said Marianne Breland, Military and Family Readiness Program manager at the 172nd AW. In times of need, Airmen of the 172nd AW become more akin to family members, rather than simply service members.

“I’ve never had to use the fund, but I've seen those who have, and I’ve seen the impact it’s had,” said Davis. “Every little bit helps; knowing that you have someone in your corner and someone you can lean on.” The Fallen Airmen Memorial Golf Tournament grew out of the willingness to help Airmen and Soldiers in need; that willingness extends beyond the gates of the 172nd AW airbase into the surrounding community.

“My favorite part of the tournament is seeing different members of the Mississippi National Guard, as well as businesses from around the state, come together and witness their impact,” said Davis. “Their excitement when they learn how they can help makes it all worthwhile.”

Despite the immediate impact, the fund has been able to provide more than just short-term assistance to Airmen.

“There’s evidence it’s improved retention as well,” said Breland. “Many of the Airmen we’ve helped have been able to stay in the Air Guard, and we’ve seen them eventually give back to the fund; paying it forward to those next Airmen that may need our help.”

Serving in the Mississippi Air National Guard is not just about military duty: members actively seek opportunities to take care of each other, fill gaps and positively impact the community around them. Events like the Fallen Airmen Memorial Golf Tournament provide an avenue for that community to uplift our Airmen and Families in need.

“We started the tournament because we wanted to support the Family Relief fund, and we keep it going in order to contribute to our servicemembers and their families with a program that they can count on,” said Davis.