TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - When talking about Airman 1st Class Benjamin Clifton, 60th Inpatient Squadron surgical inpatient flight medical technician, Master Sgt. Mark Baldwin gushes with enthusiasm.
So what does he bring to the team?
“What doesn’t he bring to the team?” said Baldwin, 60th Inpatient Squadron surgical inpatient flight chief, with a laugh. “Clifton just brings it every day, all day, and doesn’t hesitate to get anything done. … He’s just my rock star.”
However, Baldwin also notes that Clifton nearly wasn’t a part of the 60th IPTS flight at all. Clifton came to the unit as part of a manning boost. When several others were set to depart the squadron, Baldwin took charge.
“I had a conversation with the commander and was like, ‘Hey, I’m losing all these people. That’s my guy. I want to keep him,’” Baldwin said. “He did so much, showed so much initiative.”
Showing initiative and being active are important to Clifton, who hails from Charlotte, North Carolina. He holds up physical fitness, including running several miles multiple times per week and eyeing next year’s San Francisco Marathon.
Those attributes make him a good fit for the Air Force. Clifton joined after a stint in college when money for classes came up short. He worked part-time as a chef to save some cash when he decided on a new career path.
“I realized that coming home at 3 in the morning almost every day wasn’t the life for me, so I decided to find something new to do,” said Clifton. “It’s been the best decision of my life.”
Clifton arrived at Travis in April 2015. In keeping with his personality, his unit is a fast-paced environment, with most patients spending less than a week in one of the beds. It’s also demanding, with flight members working 12-to-13-hour days two to five days a week, said Clifton.
Clifton’s job as a technician involves providing backup for nurses and helping with patient care, including aiding with intravenous fluids, medications, checking vital signs and more.
“I’m here to help support the nurse because the nurse can only do so much,” said Clifton. “We’re the backbone.”
While he provides that support, Baldwin said he’s also taken on additional tasks, including undertaking a clean up of the flight’s supply and equipment issues.
Additionally, he’s worked to help improve co-workers physical training scores. Clifton said his passion for being active came during his childhood, when he was often encouraged to play outdoors.
“I’ve always loved to go on an adventure,” he said.
For his efforts, Clifton was named squadron Airman of the Quarter earlier this year. Looking to the future, Clifton wants to go into pediatrics.
“I like working with children. It’s fun, more personal. You can shape a child’s life, (give) a better experience because going to the hospital is scary,” said Clifton. “As long as you have a positive personality and feedback from the parents and kids, you can make a difference there.”
Making a difference is the most satisfying part of his role in the surgical inpatient flight, too.
“When you see a change in behavior from ‘why am I here?’ to ‘thank God I came here,’ it makes me feel good if I played a role in that,” he said.