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Airman’s compassion

Posted 2/5/2013   Updated 2/5/2013 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Damon Kasberg
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2013 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- 1st Lt. Virak Jey, 7th Maintenance Group executive officer, recently reached out to Maly Smith, an Abilene resident, in her time of need.

While picking up his clothes at a local tailor, Jey noticed the owner, Mrs. Smith, looked distressed and decided to ask what was wrong.

"I had only known Mrs. Smith for a week, but I knew she was Cambodian like me," he said. "So I asked her in Cambodian, 'Are you okay?'"

He found out she wasn't. Her husband Bobby Lee Smith, retired Air Force, was very sick and had been admitted to an emergency room.

"After hearing her story I asked if she had seen him," Jey said. "It turned out that she hadn't because she doesn't have a drivers license. Her husband's medical situation sounded very serious so I offered to take her to go see him."

Jey and Mrs. Smith soon ran into another problem.

"She didn't know what hospital they had taken her husband to," he said. "I called the local hospitals, but none of them had his name in their system because patience's names aren't put into the system if they're admitted to the emergency room. I took my chances and drove Mrs. Smith to Abilene Regional Hospital first."

Fortunately, Mr. Smith was there and he was united with his wife once more.

"I was relieved," Maly Smith said. "All of the pressure, torment and anxiety of not knowing was gone when I saw him and saw that he was being stabilized."

Jey's help did not end there. With Mr. Smith's health deteriorating, his wife, family and doctors would have to communicate with each other to make important decisions. Jey would be the translator for Mrs. Smith.

"Virak is a blessing to our family," said Sgt. 1st Class David Smith, son of Bobby Lee Smith. "He spent countless hours translating for me at every appointment, conference call and any social gathering. In my twenty-plus years in the Army, I have had the opportunity to work with officers and enlisted alike. Virak embodies the key values that are rooted in all of us."

Mr. Smith passed away a few days after Jey took Mrs. Smith to the hospital. Jey's commitment to support Mrs. Smith continues by helping her get her driver's license and U.S. citizenship.

"It boils down to compassion," Jey said. "Put yourself in their shoes. If that was you, your mother or sister, what would you do? It comes without question, you should help another human being who is suffering."

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