In November 2010, Air Force Senior Airman Jordan Gunterman did the right thing when he suspected a buddy was in serious trouble. He phoned a friend and got online.
Gunterman, a fly-away security team leader with the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, was online at his computer in Afghanistan when an instant message popped up in the corner of his screen.
The sender, a former Air Force co-worker, who was somewhere in the United States wrote, “I want you to know that you are, inside and out, the most honest guy I have met.”
Something in the spontaneous instant message sent up a warning signal to Gunterman, knowing that his friend had experienced recent drinking and anger-management issues.
Gunterman pursued the conversation further and learned that his friend had apparently just swallowed a bottle of pills.
Time was of the essence. Gunterman knew that he had less than an hour to help save his friend and he was half a world away. The Sr. Airman was able to obtain a phone number before his suicidal friend went silent online.
Immediately dialing his friend elicited no response.
Gunterman’s next move was to contact a mutual friend, Senior Airman Phillip Sneed who happened to also be online, in Japan.
Sneed took over dialing the distraught friend as Gunterman sought out his chaplain, Major Kristina Coppinger, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.
Chaplain Coppinger began efforts to contact the distressed former Airman’s First Sgt. in an attempt to get a home address to guide local police and EMS teams to the troubled man’s home.
Meanwhile, Sr. Airman Sneed had reached the friend via phone but the pills kicked in shortly afterwards. The friend had passed out and snoring was the only sound coming across the airwaves.
Time was running out for the suicidal friend as Gunterman continued his online quest for a home address using all available online search engines.
Gunterman’s search produced an old press release mentioning his friend’s graduation from basic training. The friend’s parent’s names were included in the graduation notice and he was able to search out their address and phone number. Local police were contacted immediately.