To protect and serve
By Robert Fox, 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 08, 2006
SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The call of a crow is the only thing that interrupts the steady symphony of a street light, an air conditioner and crickets as three 82nd Security Forces Squadron Airmen crouch behind their cars and two more wait by an unlocked door.
What began as an exercise of a perimeter sweep turned into a waiting game for the five people outside as four of their brethren swept the inside of the building for signs of tampering or someone inside that shouldn't be.
"It was kind of weird that we picked a building that was actually unsecured to do an exercise," Staff Sergeant Chris Jacobs, the flight sergeant for the night, said. "But it worked out for the best that it was unsecured."
After the building was declared clear and the custodian locked the one door that was missed at close-of-business, Staff Sgt. Joshua Harris said he was sure there were at least four more unsecured buildings just waiting to be found.
He said that is why they do foot patrols.
"Anything we can get access to, (anyone) can get access to," Sergeant Harris said.
That was just one of several exercises Sergeant Jacobs initiated during the unusually quiet Friday night. He said he is running a selection of exercises to keep everyone sharp for the upcoming ORI.
Senior Airman Brian Fair said he doesn't mind the exercises so much because sometimes they can be fun. "They'll have somebody, whoever they want to be a bad guy, and we'll chase them around the base trying to find them," he said. "It's actually fun.
They let us run around and tackle each other."
Airman Fair said he has been in security forces since he joined the Air Force almost five years ago. He said after basic training he didn't want to be a cop, but now, he has to admit, he loves his job.
A full shift is just short of 13 hours. They show up at 5 p.m. - or 5 a.m. respectively - to go to the armory and receive their weapon(s). After "arm-up," they move to the "guard mount" room.
After everyone has been issued a weapon, they form up and get briefed on everything from which vehicles are inoperable to anything important from the previous shift. They are given their assignments for the evening and sent to their posts.
Outside patrolmen go over their vehicles and make sure everything is where it should be and in working order. By 6 p.m. the change over is done.
Patrols drive around their designated sector, hoping their services aren't needed and at the same time nearly wishing something would happen to break up the oft quiet nights. They conduct foot patrols around and through random buildings so they can stretch their legs.
In a gesture of camaraderie, patrols will stop by the gates to see if the guards need anything and maybe lend a helping hand.
"I figure the least I can do as an Airman is stop and give them a little five minute break," Airman Fair said.
While the rest of the base sleeps, on quieter nights, the 82nd SFS officers run exercises to keep things lively, from approaching a suspect building to chasing down a rogue patrol.
During a day shift, Staff Sgt. Joe Hobert said they commonly end up responding to heat related injuries and things like shoplifting in the BX or Shoppettes.
He said in a normal day, he would respond to a minor medical emergency, usually heat related; a theft of unsecured personal property; a shoplifting or accidental alarm at the BX; and maybe a minor auto-collision.
Day shift gets their share of exercises, Sergeant Hobert said, just not at the same frequency as night shift.
Unless something happens though, both shifts spend a large amount of time driving over the same sector for 12 hours, wearing a Kevlar vest that holds heat that the car's air conditioning can't quite beat.
At the end of the day or night, each patrolman checks their weapon back in and logs any incident report or citations, Sergeant Hobert said.
Sergeant Hobert said he is undeterred by the potential dangers that come with the job because the benefits outweigh the risks.
"It is what I wanted to do and it is what my passion is," he said.
Rest easy Sheppard. The base's finest are here to protect and serve.