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Team Andersen honors Airman with memorial service

  • Published
  • By Airman Carissa Wolff
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Team Andersen members said their final goodbyes to 38-year-old Capt. Michael Turner during a memorial service held at Chapel One June 23.

Captain Turner, a flight commander for the 644th Combat Communications Squadron, passed away June 17 after sustaining injuries in a motorcycle accident.

During Captain Turner's service, friends and co-workers spoke about the characteristics that magnetically drew people toward him.

"Mike and I became instant friends when I said something about fishing," said Jacob Dowdell, husband of Maj. Richelle Dowdell, 36th Wing Public Affairs chief and personal friend of Captain Turner. "If you knew Mike, you knew that he always had that smile on his face." 

Mr. Dowdell said Captain Turner wasn't merely a good leader, he was a great leader.
"Good leaders sometimes have an effect on the people they're around," he said. "My friend was a great leader; as a great leader, he inspired other leaders." 

According to Brig. Gen. Phil Ruhlman, 36th Wing commander, not only was Captain Turner an exemplary Airman during his time at Team Andersen, but throughout his career. 

"As a general officer, I get the opportunity to look at a lot of records," General Ruhlman said. "So last night I had Mike's military career of 21 years in my hands; it was phenomenal. I mean I went back to the EPRs, the enlisted reports from when he had just started out in the military, written by many, whose names I don't even know. You could tell by the words [in the reports] that it wasn't just marking a grade or marking a square saying he did this or he did that. It was with passion that they described this man and his capacity of service, and this [report] was at the rank of airman with one stripe. On behalf of the Air Force, his career was superb." 

As a flight commander, Captain Turner was in charge of 20 Airmen from the 644th CBCS who establish network operations. 

"What he did with network operations was nothing short of a miracle," said Lt. Col. Roger Vrooman, 644th CBCS commander. "He molded that team into a highly motivated and cohesive team. What's important about that is his flight, when we deploy, is the flight that interacts with all the customers that we supply communications to. So, not only did he have equipment to worry about, but he also had to worry about the customers and how we interacted to take care of their needs and anything else needed to complete the mission. Captain Turner exceeded all my expectations in leading his flight." 

Captain Turner is survived by his wife, Tech. Sgt. Dorothy Turner, 36th Communications Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of the reception working group, and their two sons - Jadon, age 6 and Brendon, age 4.

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