To serve and protect: Andersen defenders honor fallen wingmen during Police Week

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Joshua Smoot
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Security forces Airmen from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam participated in events throughout the week of May 14-21 to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

“This week allows us to recognize the sacrifices law enforcement officers have made,” said Master Sgt. Scott Larson, 36th Security Forces Squadron superintendent of installation security. “Most of the time in the news we hear negative things, but we have a lot of fallen warriors. This year we had several defenders die in combat, so this gives us time to reflect and realize they gave their lives up for their country.”

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.

This year, Police Week kicked off May 14 with a 5K run as more than 75 runners tightened their laces and lined up along Tarague Beach at approximately 11 p.m. to begin the run at the same moment participants started next to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington D.C.

On May 17, Airmen from the 36th and 736th Security Forces Squadrons and Air Force Office of Special Investigations Det. 602 displayed their gear and skillsets to Andersen students. During the demonstrations, children explored the inside of a Humvee; OSI demonstrated basic fingerprinting techniques; combat arms training and maintenance Airmen taught weapon safety and displayed weapons that Andersen AFB security forces use on a daily basis; and military working dogs and their handlers presented K9s attack procedures.

"More than just showcasing our people and equipment, events like this allow us to engage with our community and build the trust and support from the very people we serve and protect,” said Maj. Michael Jewell, 36th SFS commander. “After all, we all live and work in the Andersen community. Building that rapport is key to creating a cohesive team of police and residents - a team committed to the safety and security of our community."

Later in the week, the 36th SFS hosted the 2016 Police Week Defender Challenge, pitting Airmen against a variety of obstacles and navigational tasks.

“The defender challenge was opened to the wing to show what Police Week and security forces is all about,” said Tech. Sgt. Alicia Goetschel, 36th SFS NCO in charge of training. “We wanted to get them motivated for Police Week.”

Nine teams from the 554th RED HORSE Squadron, 36th Operations Support Squadron, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron and 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, as well as an all-chief master sergeant team from the 36th Mission Support Group, suited up in flak jackets and helmets to prove they could keep up with the 36th SFS.

While battling Guam’s mid-day heat, contestants prevailed through the nearly two-mile course, overcoming obstacles that included flipping an oversized tire, carrying a dummy in a litter, pushing a Humvee up an incline and finishing off with a shooting competition at the CATM range.

“Everyone did awesome, they completed the course a lot faster than I expected,” Goetschel said. “They were all very motivated. They all could be defenders in my eyes.”

A retreat ceremony was the capstone event for the week. Throughout the day, Airmen honored the fallen with a memorial wreath laying and took turns as vigil guards, similar to the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington, Virginia.

“This week was a mixture of mourning and joy,” Larson said. “It gave us the chance to join the community that we serve and protect and show that we support them, we are here for them and willing to give up our lives to protect them.”