ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam --
Several Airmen across the world were selected to assist in the historical moment of the first ever meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Kim Jong-un at Singapore June 12, 2018, including two Airmen from the 36th Mobility Response Squadron (MRS) here at Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), Guam.
For Airman 1st Class Skyler Harding, a 36th Mobility Response Squadron aerial transportation technician, from small town Grants Pass, Oregon, the summit revitalized his decision on joining the United States Air Force (USAF).
At the age of 20, Skyler was inspired to join the USAF to better his person, learn life skills, and explore the world. In Aug. 2016, Harding arrived Andersen AFB, his first duty station.
“I have been stationed on Guam for nearly 2 years now,” said Harding. “It hasn’t always been easy.”
While Harding naturally took to his job at the MRS, honing his skills on the flightline, struggles in his personal life began to wear away his resiliency (fortitude).
The remote location of Guam thousands of miles away from family and friends back home, coupled with the normal stressors of military life, and being his first time out of the mainland U.S., left Harding experiencing hardships throughout his tour at Guam.
Around Christmas time Dec. 2017, Harding was given the grave news that his grandfather, Navy veteran Richard Sims, passed away from Leukemia.
“After receiving the news about my grandfather, I was devastated,” said Harding. “I never really thought something like this would happen. That there was a possibility that I may not see my grandfather ever again.”
Because his grandfather was not considered an immediate family member, emergency leave was not available for Harding. Additionally earning the base pay of an Airman 1st Class, $1,931.10 before taxes, he was not able to afford a round trip ticket to go to his grandfather’s funeral. Round trip tickets from Guam to the United States can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $1,800.
The sudden and devastating loss of a beloved grandfather cut Harding bone-deep, he said. Especially since coming from a small community, family was always a priority.
“My family is tight knit,” said Harding. “It was already difficult being so far away, but after the loss of my grandfather I got very depressed.”
Working through the low moment’s, Harding got a surprise boost in May of 2018 when he was tapped for a mission to assist at the historic meeting between the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“This was my first TDY,” Harding said. “I was very excited to find out that I was being tasked with assisting POTUS at the Summit.”
Being able to perform his duty in such a historic moment revitalized Harding, he said. It reminded him of why he first joined the Air Force.
The assignment wasn’t just a surprise for Harding, but for his family as well. His family got the surprise luxury of being able to briefly see their son on television chock the Air Force One in Singapore at the Summit. The TV broadcast gave Harding a chance to connect with his family, even from afar.
“We were so proud to see Skyler in uniform and on TV,” said Cindy Biscarret, Harding’s mother. “Even though we miss him back here, it’s comforting and exciting to know he’s making an impact in the world.”