Salutes & Awards

May 4, 2012

New memorial at Nellis honors fallen Security Forces Airmen

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By Staff Sgt. William P. Coleman
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. William P.Coleman
U.S. Air Force Col. Kit Lambert, 99th Security Forces Group commnader, presents the Fallen Defenders Legacy Project to Defender Flight, May 2, 2012, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Lambert talked about each Airman that was killed in action, giving background information on their lives and how they died in combat.

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — The 99th Security Forces Group and Nellis’ Airman Leadership School honored the nine USAF security forces Airmen killed in action since Sep. 11, 2001, with a presentation to ALS’s Defender Flight.

Defender Flight is an ALS class named after security forces Airmen, who are also known as “defenders.” The name is derived from the security forces’ Latin motto, “Defensor Fortis,” which means strong or steadfast defender.

In a ceremony led by Col. Kit Lambert, 99th Security Forces Group commander, the classroom was dedicated with the Fallen Defenders Legacy Project, a wall display depicting the nine fallen defenders accompanied by the citations describing their heroism.

“As the men and women of Defender Flight go through their training, we want them to remember the Airmen who laid down their lives to defend our country,” said Lambert.

Senior Airman Vanessa Reeves, 99th Security Forces Group executive assistant, initiated the project on behalf of the unit.

“I didn’t realize how close I was going to get to it,” said Reeves. “It was awesome to be able to honor these guys.”

During the presentation, Lambert described the stories of each Airman.

Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson was killed on September 28, 2005 near Camp Bucca, Iraq. She was the first security forces member killed in the War on Terror and the first killed in action since the Vietnam War.

On January 22, 2006, Staff Sgt. Brian McElroy and Tech. Sgt. Jason Norton were killed on the same patrol 18 miles north of Bagdad.

Airman 1st Class Leebernard Chavis was killed by enemy gunfire on October 14, 2006 in Baghdad, Iraq, just days before he was set to return home.

While on his 79th combat patrol, Staff Sgt. John Self was killed while assisting Iraqis in the street of Baghdad on May 14, 2007.

Airman 1st Class Jason Nathan was killed, June 23, 2007 in Iraq. Before deploying, he was named Security Forces Airman of the Year at Lakenheath Air Base, England.

On April 3, 2008, Staff Sgt. Travis Griffin was killed during his fourth tour in Iraq while on patrol near Baghdad.

1st Lt. Joseph Helton was killed September 8, 2009, while on a patrol near Baghdad. A 2007 Air Force Academy graduate, he was the first security forces officer killed in action in the War on Terror.

Senior Airman Nicholas Alden was killed on March 2, 2011, in a shooting by radical anti-American at Frankfurt Airport, Germany. After the gunman fatally shot Airman 1st Class Zachary Cuddeback, Alden ran toward the screams to help, but was also slain.

Lambert said the Fallen Defenders Legacy Project is a reminder that even though the war in Iraq is over, the loss of Airmen is something that should be forever remembered.

“This gives the families a sense of peace because they know that their fallen family member is not forgotten,” said Lambert. “They are a permanent part of our Air Force and that we constantly reflect on the sacrifice they have given.”




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