Air Refueling Wing members rally to help comrade's family
PORTSMOUTH — Members of the 157th Air Refueling Wing are waiting to honor a fallen comrade after he died of a heart attack while serving his sixth overseas tour, this time in Qatar.
Master Sgt. David L. Poirier, 52, who also worked as postmaster in Atkinson, died Feb. 28. He served as a member of the 157th’s Operational Support Squadron.
“Master Sgt. Poirier was the first member of our unit to pass away while serving on Operation Enduring Freedom,” 1st. Lt. Aaron McCarthy, executive officer of the 157th Air Refueling Wing, said.
“Master Sgt. Poirier will be sorely missed. He was a part of our unit for over 19 years and has been a mentor to many and a friend to all.”
Poirier had served in the military for the past 22 years.
“We have not decided on a formal recognition yet, as we are focusing on supporting Master Sgt. Poirier’s family,” McCarthy said, noting two members of the wing have been specifically assigned to help the family.
Per military policy, McCarthy said an airman serving in Qatar accompanied Poirier’s body on a flight that arrived at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware Tuesday.
“One of our unit members will escort him back to New Hampshire,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said the New Hampshire Air National Guard will not hold a separate remembrance ceremony, but many members will attend the family’s service and the burial.
Poirier, who was from North Smithfield, R.I., served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guam, Qatar, El Salvador and on other missions in New Hampshire many times, McCarthy said.
“His selfless participation to support our home and off-station airshows over the years has been essential to inspiring youth and educating the public,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy said Poirier recently began a 120-day deployment to Southwest Asia.
Members of the unit — both at home and abroad — are coping with the loss with the help of the wing’s director of psychological health and the unit’s chaplain, McCarthy said.
During his career, Poirier has earned the Air Force Commendation Medal two times, campaign medals for Iraq, Afghanistan and the Global War on Terrorism and other awards, according to McCarthy.
Atkinson Town Clerk Rose M. Cavalear said Postmaster Poirier was “a well-respected man by all who knew him.”
“When I had the pleasure to speak with him, no matter how busy he was he was always personable and willing to help with any problem. I know that the town of Atkinson would like to extend its sincere sympathy to his wife and family. He will be missed by all.”