TAMPA, Fla. - "It was the middle of the night and my mother came to wake me up. Upon waking up, I heard helicopters overhead and the sound of tank engines echoed throughout the city. It was scary at first because I did not know what was going on, but once I saw the troops start patrolling the streets my nerves were put at ease. At that point, I viewed them as heroes," Staff Sgt. Arjune Haynes, 6 Medical Operation Squadron NCO- in charge of the Cardiology Lab services, reminiscing on his experience of living through "Operation Just Cause"--the U.S. invasion of Panama to overthrow military dictator Manuel Noriega.
Haynes, a native of the Republic of Panama, was 9-years-old when this event occurred. He knew from that day forward that his destiny was to be an American Airman.
"After surviving Operation Just Cause and realizing the impact that this mission brought to my country, I felt I needed to give back to the nation that saved my country," said Haynes.
Haynes came to America in 2000 with high hopes of pursuing his dreams of joining the military. He met with a recruiter who gave him a practice Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery that he did not pass. Therefore, he studied for a couple months and went to take the actual ASVAB; however, to his disappointment he did not pass.
"At that point I became very discouraged and convinced myself that it was not for me," said Haynes. "I gave up on my dream and started working a medical technician job in Staten Island, N.Y."
After a friend came to visit him and reminded him why he came to the U.S., Haynes decided to give the Air Force another shot. In doing so, he passed the ASVAB and started his journey in the Air Force on Sept. 16, 2006, as a cardiopulmonary craftsman.
"My experience with the Air Force thus far has been unique and fascinating," expressed Haynes. "During my time I have had once in a lifetime opportunities and seen miracles first hand. I have grown as an individual and professionally."
One distinctive encounter he had with a patient was when he was the first to respond to a Code Blue (inpatient emergency). He arrived at the scene and the patient was pulseless. He used a defibrillator and oxygen to stabilize the member, until they were transported to Tampa General.
During his tenure, he has supported Operation Enduring Freedom and has saved numerous lives.