81st SFS keeps Keesler safe

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Holly Mansfield
  • 81st Training Wing Public Affairs
The sun is rising and Airmen are driving on base to go to work. The first person they see as they come to the front gate is a defender keeping the base safe for them to complete the mission.

The 81st Security Forces Squadron's mission is just as much about deterrence as it is response capability, and these Airmen work around the clock to ensure the mission of the 81st Training Wing is uninterrupted.

From patrolling the base 24/7, to checking ID cards at the gate, their daily routines ensure base personnel are safe and secure.

"We have the base defense operations center where our controllers are, flightline security, entry controlling, the K-9 unit, visitor control center and combat arms training and maintenance," explained Staff Sgt. Joseph Jahnke, 81st SFS installation patrolman. "Each section has different responsibilities, but we all make sure people are safe."

With more than eight years of experience working in security forces, little things like a child waving at him as he patrols through base housing are what he enjoys most.

"My favorite section to work in would have to be installation patrol," Jahnke said. "Getting to go out and make sure everyone is doing fine is really good for us and the base population. We get to make sure they are OK, and they know we are here to help them if they need it."

For security forces Airmen who have less experience, like Senior Airman Ashlee Scales, having the satisfaction of being able to protect the base while gaining experience in the career field makes her job that much better, she said. Each day she learns skills she will use not only as a security forces Airman, but also if she becomes a police officer in the civilian world.

"I enjoy my job because I get the training I need to interact with people on base and protect them if something goes wrong," said Scales, 81st SFS entry controller. "Who wouldn't want to be a cop protecting the base?"

The 81st SFS has more than 175 members who work shifts lasting 12 or more hours, depending on each day's workflow. But no matter how tired they are, they are always available to help out their fellow Airmen.

"I like having a partner here with me when I'm working because I feel secure and know that if something happens, we'd have it covered," said Scales. "Out here at the search pit, we have to look over each commercial vehicle that comes onto the base. You don't always know who you are dealing with, so having an over watch gives me that extra coverage."

After the sun goes down and people have gone to sleep, defenders on the night shift prepare to patrol, protect and secure the base.

"During the night shift when we are patrolling, we go to different buildings on base, like the Sablich Center, and make sure that all doors leading into the building are locked," said Staff Sgt. Jason Moore, 81st SFS installation patrolman.

No matter what the weather conditions are, each 81st SFS Airman must respond to calls spanning from vehicle accidents to medical emergencies.

"We respond to any call we might get from someone in need, and right now we are going to help out an Airman who got into a minor vehicle accident," said Moore. "At calls like this, we will get the person to tell us what happened, document it and then take note of any evidence that we find."

Each piece of evidence must be examined to ensure an accurate report.

"I always make sure each person knows I'll help them however I can in an incident, but at the same time, I have to remain unbiased," said Moore. "You need to take into account what each person is saying, look at the evidence and find out what actually happened."

Staying with each person who calls for help until they have given their side of the story and evidence has been collected is important . . . even if it means battling the rain.
"Even though it's raining, we still have to make sure the mission gets completed, and make sure the person is ok," said Moore. "If the person has to sit in the car to write the statement while I stand in the rain, then I'll do it."

Whether they are battling the weather or patrolling the base, the 81st SFS Airmen work around the clock to defend, protect and serve the members of Keesler.