451 IS Dedicates New Building Honoring Fallen Airman

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Damian Hasty
  • 480th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Wing
The 451st Intelligence Squadron, affectionately referred to as the “reapers”, chose to host a celebration for a mental and physical wellness check while also honoring Airman First Class Dylan Bautista on June 22, 2022, at Fort Gordon, Ga.

Air Force units located on the Fort Gordon Army installation utilize a number of facilities to perform and sustain their administrative and operational functions. One of these units, the newly reactivated 451st IS, has been operating in “borrowed” spaces, lacking a place of their own to call home. As the summer sun of northeastern Georgia bears down today, these airmen will formally christen their headquarters building and name it after their recently fallen Airmen. This seemingly modest building will now be home to some of the Air Force’s best and brightest.
“Who are these Airmen?” one may ask. There are several ways we could define the reapers of Fort Gordon, but after rigorous brainstorming and soul searching from across the reaper team, no better definition exists to set these Airmen apart than the pillars which they uphold: people, culture, and mission. You see, these service members are not simply employees performing a job, nor are they merely a collective group of humans who happen to coexist, irrespective of their differences. Rather, the reapers accomplish their Department of Defense-ordained mission by prioritizing caring for their people, honoring and developing their team members, and pursuing creative ways to advance warfighter dominance. The Airmen are empowered to take ownership of these pillars, understanding that they are not simply cogs in a machine, but instead individuals who together are more than just a sum of their parts. The ceremony serves as a reminder of these facts for the Airmen in attendance, and all who follow.
The timing for this dedication is poignant, not only because of the squadron’s recent emphasis on developing a shared and dignified identity, but also because it lands almost exactly one year after the tragic death of one of its young service members: Airman First Class Dylan Bautista. Bautista died early on June 18th, 2021, after being struck by a vehicle at a traffic light. The news shook the close-knit unit to their core – the loss was terribly unexpected, and Dylan meant so much to so many. Airman Bautista had just recently begun performing his primary duties in the unit as an intelligence analyst, a rigorous job for which he spent several months in training. His leadership saw exceptional promise in his abilities, and he was one of only two Airmen from a group of nine who were singled out for performance far above expectations. This distinction came as no surprise for those who worked closely with Dylan. His ability and camaraderie were more akin to what one would expect from a seasoned veteran. When the news broke of Dylan’s death, the unit felt the subtle loss of a skilled journeyman, but reeled from the greater loss of a compassionate and charismatic man.

The dedication ceremony formally recognized the squadron’s home building as Bautista Hall, reminding all who gaze upon its walls that the very characteristics and values that Dylan exhibited, persist as the attributes the unit carries forward. Airman Bautista stood out among his peers, representing the cutting edge of America’s defenders of freedom and justice. The reapers declare that we will not leave his legacy behind, we will not falter, and in his honor, we will not fail.