SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – The sound of “Taps” echoed here May 14, 2021, in front of the wing headquarters building as the solemn tones played by a single bugler presented one more salute to fallen law enforcement officers as part of National Police Week.
For members of the 82nd Security Forces Squadron, Office of Special Investigations and guests at the annual Police Memorial Retreat, it was a time to reflect on the lives lost by Air Force security forces defenders and Office of Special Investigations special agents. It was the culmination of a week of recognition events hosted by SFS.
Maj. Andrew York, 82nd SFS commander, said 195 defenders and special agents have lost their lives in the line of duty since 1950 – some while deployed to various locations, some in aircraft or automobile crashes, and some while responding to a Base Exchange robbery. Fourteen lives, he said, were claimed during hostile actions on Sept. 11, 2001.
One such defender was Staff Sgt. Todd “T.J.” Lobraico Jr., who was killed at a location 8 miles outside Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, on Sept. 5, 2013. York said his security forces team was conducting a counter improvised explosive device patrol 3 miles from where Lobraico’s Reaper team was located when it was ambushed while setting up a listening and observation post north of the airfield.
“I remember looking at the Airmen I was with that night who I trusted with my life, and they trusted me with theirs,” he said. “That is a bond we share as defenders. We may be stopping a DUI at the gate tonight and deploying to Iraq or Africa next week with our fellow defenders.”
Members of the OSI and SFS teams performed a final guard mount, or roll call, for 24 special agents and defenders who paid the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell, 82nd Training Wing commander, called the roll call a sobering moment to reflect on the names of the fallen. The names, he said, stand for souls that are no longer here, and it’s important to pause and recognize that. It’s also important, he said, to thank defenders and OSI agents, past and present, for their dedicated sacrifice.
The general said a significant mission rests inside the fence line of Sheppard AFB, and it’s the defenders who stand at the gates checking IDs and patrolling the installation day-in and day-out who provide that layer of protection to continue the mission.
Bell reminded the audience that Sheppard’s motto is “Combat Capability Starts Here,” and that applies to training technical specialties in the 82nd TRW, fighter pilots for NATO at the 80th Flying Training Wing, the next group of senior non-commissioned officers at the Sheppard NCO Academy, or other support agencies and mission partners.
“Every sortie we fly. Every base we operate from around the world has our fingerprints on it. The Air Force does not fly, fight or win without the work that we do right here at Sheppard Air Force Base, he said. “But it’s our defenders – defenders of the force – who make sure that we have a safe place to do that work.”
In October 1962, President John F. Kennedy designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as National Police Week.