MST. SGT. Randy J. Gillespie

 

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Randy Gillespie, 44, was born June 23, 1963, in Colorado Springs to JoAnn and Edwin Gillespie.  A straight-talking man who loved children, car engines and making a difference, Randy died of wounds suffered in a small-arms encounter in Afghanistan.  Gillespie, who lived in Litchfield Park with his wife, Lisa, and four children, had served at Luke Air Force Base for seven years. He was assigned to the 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron there.

"Randy loved being in the Air Force and believed in what he was doing," his wife said Wednesday.  "He could have retired from the Air Force but volunteered to deploy to Afghanistan because he wanted to protect people's freedom and spread democracy."  Gillespie, who grew up in Colorado, was fatally wounded outside Camp Stone, a forward operating base near Herat, Afghanistan.  The location is about 300 miles west of Bagram Airfield, which is north of the capital, Kabul.

He was deployed with the 755th Air Expeditionary Group in support of Combined Joint Task Force Phoenix, a collection of Army National Guard units training the new Afghan national army.  Gillespie, who was teaching fuels procedures to Afghan forces, demonstrated such care for those forces that they called him "Brother."  Chief Master Sgt. Mike Smith, Gillespie's supervisor at Luke, said the 24-year Air Force veteran not only volunteered for the deployment, but he also demanded it.  "He knew his career was winding down," Smith said. "He told me he wanted to do one more thing to make a difference."  Typically, the way Gillespie made a difference was by helping people out, whether it was repairing someone's auto, handing out candy and shoes to Afghan children, or mentoring his fellow service members.  "He touched every one of us with his life," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Jablonowski, who credited Gillespie with guiding his career.  "He was one who walked the walk that he talked.  He had your back no matter what."  Brig. Gen. Tom Jones, commander of Luke's 56th Fighter Wing, praised Gillespie as a fine human being and excellent service member.

"Master Sgt. Gillespie was a devoted husband, father and friend," Jones said. "A superb airman and a dedicated patriot.  He was a cherished member of this wing and the United States Air Force, and he will be sorely missed."

At the time of his death Randy was survived by his wife, Lisa, and their children, Cory, Cris, Ethan, and Amanda; mother JoAnn Gillespie of Pueblo; father, Edwin Gillespie of Coaldale; brothers, Rick Gillespie of Pueblo, Roger Gillespie of Pueblo and Tech. Sgt. Ronald Gillespie of Colorado Springs; and grandmothers, Catherine Gillespie of Cañon City and Evelyn Walter of Wheatland, Wyoming.

Randy's FindaGrave listing.