Personnel from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., local police departments and members of the community came together to recognize the service and sacrifice of law enforcement personnel May 15 through 19 during National Police Week.
The tradition dates back 55 years and was started by President John F. Kennedy who signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which that date falls as Police Week.
“A lot of people do not understand what police officers and their departments do,” said Master Sgt. Christopher Seale, 56th Security Forces Squadron mid-shift flight chief. “Police Week is important to Luke as well as local police departments to show the capabilities we possess.”
According to Seale, Police Week is a time to remember those who have fallen while defending others. It is also an opportunity to learn what security forces members and police officers do on a routine basis.
Throughout the week, the 56th SFS hosted various events. May 15 consisted of a police awareness day held in the commissary parking lot featuring the display of modern weapons used in ground combat, a face-painting tent and 56th SFS military working dogs. May 16 was a police day for kids held with a safety discussion and MWD demonstration. The morning of May 17 featured a 24-hour remembrance run in the air park where 56th SFS members took turns running in 30-minute intervals for fallen comrades.
On May 18, a retreat ceremony was held to remember 56th SFS Airmen who lost their lives when Cambodian, Khmer Rouge communist forces seized the S.S. Mayaguez in international waters sparking an American military response. The incident took place May 12 to 15, 1975. Twenty-three men assigned to the 56th Special Operations Wing lost their lives. The S.S. Mayaguez retreat ceremony and 21-gun salute took place at the Wing flagpole.
“It is important to remember the stories of these Airmen and others who have died in action,” said Major Scott Haselden, 56th SFS Commander. “We have seen the risks associated with our line of work close hand, but this is nothing new to defenders.”
Airmen and local law enforcement personnel came together May 19 for a golf tournament at the Falcon Dunes Golf Course, and a four person scramble and 50/50 raffle. Twenty percent of all proceeds from the event will be donated to the Air Force Assistance Fund and the remaining portion to the Arizona 100 Club, a local organization which provides assistance to statewide public safety agencies, officers, firefighters, paramedics and their families.
“We have something for everybody during Police Week,” said Tech. Sgt. Luis Carrasco, 56th SFS flight sergeant. “All of the events help showcase what we do as security forces members and police officers. Every day is about honoring fellow defenders while educating the public and building relationships with local law enforcement personnel.”
Police officer representatives from the city of Glendale, Surprise and Mesa attended and participated in the assorted activities. Kim Dominguez, Glendale Police Department recruitment unit sergeant, reflected on the significance of Police Week.
“We value the partnership between the local police departments and Luke,” said Dominguez. “The importance of Police Week is to recognize that police officers hold the line every single day. We are the ones who protect our society and communities.”