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Ogdensburg family proud of daughter’s Air Force commendation

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OGDENSBURG — The first time Scarlett Fletchall read the letter from Kyrgyzstan, she didn’t cry.

When she called her mother, Glory P. Martel, to read the letter, she couldn’t hold back the emotions.

“I couldn’t help myself. The tears just came,” she said. “I was so proud.”

The letter commending her daughter, Airman First Class Molly Fletchall, arrived this week from Colonel Brian M. Newberry, operations group commander at the Airforce Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan.

“She was recently selected as our Wing’s Warrior of the Week for her excellence in the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron,” wrote Mr. Newberry. “This is quite an honor and a testament to what a standout Airman she is.”

Ms. Fletchall, a 22-year-old graduate of Ogdensburg Free Academy, is a knowledge operations journeyman from the 721st Mission Support Group, out of Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.

She was also commended for her service in Operation Warm and Dry with the 376th Expeditionary Operations Group, which gave winter coats to more than 200 men, women and children.

She was recognized the second week of February for good conduct, outstanding work ethic and, most importantly, a job well done, according to the official website at the base.

“We are all so proud of her, the whole family,” said Mrs. Martel.

As part of the humanitarian operation, the group was sent to two villages in Kyrgyzstan, Vasilievka and Vinogradnoye, where they handed out the coats to grateful villagers. “It was such a nice thing for them to do,” said Mrs. Martel. “There’s more to it than the combat. The Air Force does a lot for people.”

Ms. Fletchall’s honors didn’t stop there.

“She was chosen with five others to have Thanksgiving dinner with the U.S. ambassador (to Kyrgyzstan) at his home, and that was exciting,” said Mrs. Martel.

Ms. Fletchall entered the military with a six-year commitment in October 2010 for the education benefits.

“She didn’t want the expense of college,” said Mrs. Fletchall. “She really liked the service part of being in the military, and she wanted to see a lot and travel.”

Her service has taken her half-way around the world, to places many in the north country have never heard of. Three months ago she was deployed to Kyrgyzstan. Before that, Ms. Fletchall spent two years deployed to Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany.

When asked if she misses her daughter, Mrs. Fletchall smiled.

“I think Molly wants to spend as much time overseas as she possibly can,” she said. “There’s nothing I can do. It’s good that she wants to go.”

While her family in the United States has kept in touch with her by email, they rarely get a chance to hear her voice. There is an 11-hour time difference between the north country and Kyrgyzstan, said Mrs. Fletchall.

“On the telephone, I’ve talked to her maybe three times since she was deployed,” she said. “We send messages online at least three times a week.”

Her parents have tried to keep her homesickness at bay with care packages from home.

“I just sent her three pounds of garlic pretzels,” said Mrs. Fletchall. “That’s her favorite.”

Ms. Fletchall has returned the favor by sending packages from central Asia.

“She sent us a pamphlet telling us about their culture,” said Mrs. Fletchall. “The biggest thing she sent was a flag she flew over Iraq.”

Part of her duties is to fly American flags with tanker flights over Iraq and Afghanistan, to be sent home as gifts and mementos by servicemen.

“In her time here, she has flown hundreds of flags with our tanker aircraft over Afghanistan, which has raised spirits across America for scores of our citizens when they receive the flags,” wrote Mr. Newberry.

Ms. Fletchall wants to make a career out of her Airforce service.

“She wants to cross train to become a boom operator for in-air refueling,” said Mrs. Fletchall. “She had a chance to go up in one of those planes and she loved it.”

Nevertheless, she is taking advantage of her education benefits, taking courses in business administration.

Mrs. Martel said her granddaughter wants to next be deployed to South Korea.

Efforts to reach Ms. Fletchall for this story were not successful.

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