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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — It’s Saturday night, you’ve been drinking, and the midnight curfew is closing in. But you don’t have a ride home or money for a taxi.

For Kadena Air Base residents, Airmen Against Drunk Driving volunteers are on call to save the night and maybe lives.

On Friday and Saturday nights — from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. — AADD volunteers will pick up Kadena and Camp Shields residents from any location within a three-mile radius of the air base, Senior Airman Rachael Long, AADD council president, said.

Those needing a ride call the base command post staff, who then call the volunteers. AADD’s policy is "no questions asked, and we don’t keep track of names," Long said. She did caution that if a servicemember breaks curfew and is questioned by gate guards, the individual — not AADD volunteers — must deal with those questions.

Most volunteers are airmen, though some soldiers stationed on Kadena volunteer as well, Long said. Volunteers stand duty during one of two 4½-hour shifts at the Kadena United Service Organizations. They use their own vehicles to drive people home.

Driving under the influence can ruin an airman’s career, or worse, it could lead to someone’s death, Long said. AADD’s goal is to "save careers, save lives," she said.

A few years ago, she recounted, a wing commander started the program so airmen can help fellow airmen stay out of trouble. It followed a rash of incidents involving driving under the influence.

That’s why Senior Airman Andrea Hyden, with 18th Component Maintenance Squadron, volunteers. Hyden said Kadena’s gates used to display what was called a "doomsday clock" that tracked how many days had passed since the last DUI incident involving Kadena airmen. If the clock reached 60 days without incident, she explained, the base would get an extra day off, but that never happened.

She said she wanted to do whatever she could to provide an alternative to driving under the influence. She has been volunteering with AADD for two years.

The service isn’t offered only to airmen, Long said. Volunteers will pick up anyone, regardless of service branch, if they live on Kadena or Shields.

"So even if a Marine works on Foster, if he lives on Kadena, we’ll pick him up," she said.

And the program is working, Long said. Last year, the organization provided 480 rides, and so far this year, it has provided more than 100.

"If you’re going to be drinking, you should have a plan in place for getting home; AADD is there if the plan fails," Long said.

Airmen who want to volunteer can contact their unit first sergeant or unit AADD representative. To receive a ride home on Friday or Saturday evening, call DSN 634-2233.


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