February 26, 2016

March defenders protect ‘Air Force One’

by Lt. Col. Shawn Swarz
452 SFS commander
courtesy photo/Carla Ramirez
Senior Airman Ivan Ramirez (left) and Tech. Sgt. Scot Humphreys (right), rear and perimeter security for a Feb. 14, 2016, detail to provide security to Air Force One, stand on the tarmac at Palm Springs International Airport, California. The President was in Southern California to host a two-day summit, The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with 10 Southeast Asian leaders at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage.

When we get those short-notice taskings, it is imperative that we have Airman ready who are fully qualified and mission ready. The security of President Barack Obama’s jet, better known as Air Force One, is one of those taskings. Five of my Airman who were contacted this month answered the call with excellence and professionalism. 

On Valentine’s weekend, March defender team, led by Tech. Sgt. Scot Humphreys, 452nd Security Forces Squadron, proceeded to Palm Springs, California, to join other security forces Ravens in a mission to protect the President’s jet. Making up Humphreys’ team was Tech. Sgt. Javier Garcia, Staff Sgt. Jon Arnette, and Senior Airmen Ivan Ramirez and Stephen Aldama.

Humphreys, whose participation in the detail marked his third time in this type detail, but his first time as team leader, said this mission is the premiere responsibility of security forces.

“It was the epitome of our job,” Humphreys said. “The security force’s motto is ‘Defenser Fortis’ or Defenders of the Force. That guy (the President) is the force. It was the highlight of my career.”

Humphreys returned after the mission to file his trip report and noted that the March defenders were recognized by the Raven Team leader, a Chief Master Sgt.

According to the U.S. Air Force Raven Qualification Course, Ravens are “Security Forces personnel to perform as members of a force protection team assigned to deploy with DOD aircraft to austere environments. Students are trained to perform as teams to detect, deter, and counter threats to personnel and aircraft at deployed locations by performing close-in aircraft security and advising aircrew on force protection measures. In addition, the course prepares students to perform anti-hijacking duties on select missions.”

Although Palm Spring is not considered an austere environment, this high-profile mission warrants Raven participation, however, none of the March Ravens participated this time.

In addition to the accolades from the Raven leader, Humphreys said that just before Air Force One departed the aircraft commander, a colonel, deplaned, walked to the tail of the aircraft, and personally thanked him. The colonel also sent thanks and congratulations to the March defenders on a great multi-day mission.

It hadn’t happened to him before (an aircraft commander personally thanking him), and it was genuine and really cool to be thanked by him, Humphreys said.

“It wasn’t just me doing a good job, it was my team,” he added.

When I address our Traditional Reservists I end the weekend with a safety briefing and tell them the importance of always being ready. Our next deployment may be well down the road, but the world is ever changing and we need to be ever ready. I impress on them the importance of keeping their civilian affairs in order and their military requirements up to date. If those things are in order, it will make a short-notice deployment a little less stressful, and we can provide the Air Force a combat-ready force at a moment’s notice.

Although my defenders provide excellence in all they do on a daily basis, I am always honored when they are appreciated by others. I want everyone to recognize what I see every single day from these great men and women.

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