Luke Air Force Base spans 4,800 acres, including four geographically separated locations. More than 5,000 people work and live here. The U.S. Air Force stores more than $3.6 trillion worth of defense assets in this one location. Protecting these lives and property is the responsibility of the 56th Security Forces Squadron. The nation recognized the service and sacrifice of law enforcement personnel during Police Week May 11 through 17.
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week. During the week, tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converged on Washington, D.C., to participate in events planned to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
The men and women in the 56th SFS honored fellow defenders this week. While educating the public and building relationships with local law enforcement, security forces Airmen showed their colors.
“The whole week is dedicated to remembering law enforcement officers around the nation,” said Capt. Andrew Stolten, 56th SFS director of operations. “We honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice by keeping them in our thoughts and prayers throughout the week but specifically May 15, which is the day designated by the president to remember the fallen.”
This year, SFS Airmen kicked off the week early with a 5k run on May 9, open to the base and local police departments, to honor a Glendale K-9. They hosted a display at the commissary on May 12 to educate the community by demonstrating their gear and highlighting their training. They followed that up with a visit by McGruff the Crime Dog to the 56th Force Support Squadron child development and youth centers.
“We worked with local law enforcement agencies to show the base populace how we partner with them,” said Michael Dicicco, 56th SFS training NCO in charge.
The Luke defenders invited the city police back to base May 14 for a shooting competition along with representatives from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, testing their skills with service pistols. On May 15, the defenders honored their fallen in a retreat ceremony.
“We have a memorial service for those who lost their lives during the S.S. Mayaguez rescue operation,” Stolten said. “It is the only event that we specifically hold a memorial service for because those defenders belonged to our squadron during the Vietnam War.”
The week culminated with a fundraiser golf tournament to give back to the families of those who have given their lives or been injured in the line of duty.
“We want the people of the base to remember that security forces Airmen are police officers,” Stolten said. “We are dedicated to protecting and serving the base populace, and we are deeply connected with the community in many regards. The relationship security forces has with local police departments is truly remarkable, and we are grateful.”