McLouth man finds small world in Air Force
Capt. Shilo Weir Editor's Note: Sgt. Richard Karmann III, of McLouth, recently was reunited with an old family friend while deployed in Southwest Asia, where he is supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Southwest Asia -- At one time or another, each of us has thought, "It's a small world" or "It's a small Air Force" when we run into friends and co-workers whom we have been stationed with in the past.
In a time of operations with increased tempos and more frequent deployments, this happens often and, in some cases, can reunite people who never dreamed they would work together.
For Sgt. Richard Karmann III, the Air Force became smaller than he ever imagined in his recent deployment to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing when he began work for a man he has known since birth.
Karmann, 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron unit training manager, and Col. Robert Swisher, the 386th AEW commander, have a 30-year history from when Swisher, then an airman, worked for the late Staff Sgt. Richard L. Karmann Jr.
"I remember baby-sitting young Karmann as a child," Swisher said. "I am thrilled to see him now serving his nation."
Karmann III said Swisher not only baby-sat him but also his three siblings as well.
"It is strange to think that he literally bounced me on his knee," he said.
Swisher enlisted in the Air Force in 1977, the same year Karmann III was born. He completed basic training and Combat Controller school and went on to his first duty station at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, where Karmann Jr. became his first supervisor.
"I hold the highest admiration for him. He was a great supervisor," Swisher said. "He was a hero of mine, both on and off duty."
Swisher said Karmann Jr. inspired him to pursue a degree and his commission.
"Rich Karmann Jr. was truly a one-of-a-kind man who never gave up, while infecting others with his can-do spirit at the same time," Swisher said. "He really did apply a lot of effort to helping me get ahead, while missing family time and never taking any benefits for himself."
Karmann Jr. inspired his troops and his children alike, challenging them to live up to their full potential.
"I feel I have done well in the Air Force because my father raised us with the core values," Karmann III said. "He truly believed in them."
As a result of his father's leadership and inspiration, Karmann III was driven to complete his degree and pursue his commission. He is expected to start Army Officer's Commissioning School in November.
Karmann III originally was to attend the school in April but was selected for deployment.
"I really enjoy the military lifestyle -- moving around a lot and meeting great people," he said. "After a while, you start to run into familiar faces and it is nice to connect with someone who knew your dad."
Karmann Jr. died unexpectedly in December 2005. This deployment gave both Karmann III and Swisher the opportunity to remember a man they lost less than two years ago.
"Rich III is just like his dad," Swisher said. "He is the spitting image of his father, and he appears to have received a full dose of the inspirational gene and is doing superbly in the Security Forces career field."