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Thin Blue Line, Part 2: Defenders secure flight line, ensure mobility mission

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

(Editor’s Note: This is the second of a three-part series on security forces at Travis AFB.)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The beret they wear bears the message, “Defensor Fortis,” defenders of the force. They protect thousands of people and Air Force resources at bases in the United States and around the world.

These defenders are the Airmen of security forces. The Airmen assigned to the 60th Security Forces Squadron at Travis AFB provide security for the Air Force’s largest air mobility wing, as well as the western contingent of the 621st Contingency Response Wing and Air Force Reserve Command’s 349th Air Mobility Wing.

A large part of the security mission takes place at the Travis AFB flight line, where aircraft take off, land and park. The flight line is where Airmen prepare all three airframes assigned to Travis AFB -- the C-5M Super Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III and KC-10 Extender -- to fly missions.

Much of the maintenance those aircraft undergo occurs on the flight line or in nearby maintenance facilities, all under the watchful eye of security forces.

“We have to be trained and ready for anything at any moment,” said Staff Sgt. Brenden Rinehart, 60th SFS patrolman. “We could be called upon to establish cordons, entry control or traffic control points, respond to an incident, search an area, apprehend someone and so much more. Vigilance is key to airfield protection.”

Rinehart said 60th SFS Airmen conduct regular patrols of the flight line as well as daily identification checks and perimeter checks to ensure the area is secure. Airman 1st Class Stephanie DaSilva, 60th SFS installation entry controller, echoed Rinehart’s sentiment and said vigilance is essential for security.

“Our aircraft are some of the most valuable assets in our Air Force,” she said. “If anything happens to our aircraft that could seriously compromise our mission.

“Sometimes the smallest thing we do can have a huge impact,” she said. “There may be someone out there who has bad intentions, and we are here to deter that and respond to incidents to keep our base safe. We must be forever vigilant.”

Travis AFB defenders have provided security for combat support missions, contingency exercises with U.S. allies, as well as humanitarian missions. They have also provided security for senior officials such as former U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright.

In 2016 and 2018, they secured the flight line during air shows hosted at the base, which had a combined estimate of 140,000 attendees. In February 2020, Travis AFB defenders provided security for the base and American citizens who were evacuated from Wuhan, China, and Japan due to the new coronavirus.

“We coordinated with the U.S. Marshals and the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure the passengers were escorted to their quarantine locations,” said Tech. Sgt. Aaron January, 60th SFS flight chief.

Travis AFB served as one of five quarantine locations for repatriated citizens who were evacuated from China and Japan.

Once the planes landed, they were considered quarantined sites, so nobody other than medical personnel or those medically cleared could get on or off the aircraft, January said.

In March, Travis’ defenders ensured secure flight line operations for the deployment of medics and supplies bound for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to aid in the fight against COVID-19.

“The pandemic is a global problem,” January said. “For us to be able to help people, not just Americans, but in a way, mankind, is special. In the big scheme of things, it may seem like a small thing we do -- provide security -- but doing our part to help means so much to every one of us.”