I have known the subject of this week’s Veterans Spotlight feature for 35-plus years. He has long been a great supporter of mine; I in turn have always admired the way he has given of himself to a great many causes.
Born in Worcester, Ahmed Mustafa, through stints in the US Army National Guard, Air Force and Air National Guard, finished with 28 years of service to his country. Mr. Mustafa joined the Army National Guard’s 181st Infantry Division in 1954, while he was still in high school. In February 1956 he joined the Air Force full time.
He served in the the highly dangerous capacity of intel-recon for a year. It was more than a significant eye-opener for the young Mr. Mustafa when he asked about the life expectancy in the aforementioned duty and his sergeant replied, “About three to five minutes during active war.”
Mr. Mustafa was sent to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, then had assignments at Lowry Air Force Base in Colorado and Donaldson Air Force Base in South Carolina, where he reached the rank of airman second class.
In late 1956 Airman Mustafa was shipped to Japan as a munitions specialist at Yokota Air Base before moving on to other assignments. He said that being away for the holidays wasn’t that bad: “We were well taken care of in the chow halls.” While in Japan Airman Mustafa was given “a first-hand experience on the disposal of arms” by his chief warrant officer, Zarsky. In 1959 he was assigned to then-Otis Air Force Base as an instructor in disaster control, an immensely important position. He recalled the base was “very active, 24 hours a day with security very high.”
He was able to hone his extraordinary skills when he was sent to explosives school. The extensive training was intense: 6½ days a week, morning to evening, with extreme studying and preparation. Airman Mustafa recalled a story at Otis that could have had a tragic ending. “During an exercise, Marines had fired a mortar round that didn’t explode in the field. It needed to be disposed of,” he said. As Airman Mustafa was preparing to work on it, the mortar round started to roll. He scrambled to get away, and the mortar rolled down a hill and exploded.
He commented on the challenges of working as an explosive ordinance disposal technician: “You never know what to expect. You desperately need absolute clear vision at all times.”
When asked to sum up his military service (he retired from the Air National Guard as a master sergeant), Mr. Mustafa replied, “The service is one of two things—you either hate it or have good experiences. I really enjoyed the people I worked with and am very happy for the memories I have.”
His service didn’t stop in the military; Mr. Mustafa compiled 38 years in law enforcement. Working as a summer cop, then full time for 18 years as a policeman with the Falmouth Police Department, then going on to the Massachusetts State Police, where he retired as a lieutenant.
He continues to be active in retirement, serving the Town of Falmouth as a mainstay on the veterans council and traffic advisory committee, and as a Town Meeting member in Precinct 4. He is a man with a tremendously giving heart.
Mr. Ahmed Mustafa, thank you for your service to our great country.