HomeNewsArticle Display

Defenders forge culture of service, remember fallen Airmen

SFS Defender

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Yates, a security forces defender with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, conducts a base perimeter patrol, Jan. 19, 2021. He and other defenders ensure the base remains secure in order to carry out its mission both day and night, 365 days-a-year. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Paul Duquette)

SFS Defender

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Camron Nuner, a defender with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, patrols the perimeter keeping wing operations secure at an undisclosed location, Jan. 19, 2021. He and other defenders ensure the base remains secure in order to carry out its mission both day and night, 365 days-a-year. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Paul Duquette)

SFS Defender

A U.S. Air Force M-ATV patrols the fence line of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing in an undisclosed location, Jan. 19, 2021. Deployed security forces defenders ensure the base remains secure in order to carry out its mission both day and night, 365 days-a-year. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Paul Duquette)

SFS Defender

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Stephen Franco, a security forces defender deployed to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, function checks his M-240 Bravo while on patrol, Jan. 19, 2021. Deployed security forces defenders ensure the base remains secure in order to carry out its mission both day and night, 365 days-a-year. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Paul Duquette)

UNDESCLOSED LOCATION SOUTHWEST ASIA --

Expeditionary security forces squadrons share a culture across the globe—wherever the U.S. Air Force needs to fly aircraft into harm’s way.

They are there keeping Airmen and resting aircraft safe. They patrol the fence line; control who steps onto the base.

They do this with the knowledge that it’s not a safe profession, but an absolutely critical one.

At the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, those Airmen pay homage to this special culture and in particular those who made the ultimate sacrifice while performing missions in dangerous places.

On the fence line, a two-ton M-ATV crawls past. A rugged vehicle constructed to survive the blast of an improved explosive device, it boasts an M-240 machine gun turret, 6.6 liter turbo diesel motor, bullet-proof glass, 46-inch run-flat tires and a small, unobtrusive stencil on the back door.

TORQE62

“On the side of all our ‘Mat-Vees’ each one has a unique name, for example this one is TORQE 6-2,” explains Senior Airman Camron Nuner, pointing at the vehicle. “It’s named after the call sign of a C-130 at ‘J-Bad’ that crashed outside the wire in October 2015 killing five contractors and six Airmen including two of our defenders.”

He speaks in military parlance, “J-Bad” is Jalalabad, Afghanistan. “Mat-Vee” is Mine-Resistant, All-Terrain Vehicle or M-ATV.

“We have HUSTLER 6, BUNKER 51, TF-1041 just honoring the heritage and legacy of defenders before us,” he said. “Every time someone gets in a ‘M-ATV’, every time they go out to post they see those call signs, they see that name—that legacy they carry on their shoulders.”

The legacy they carry includes the killing of two defenders and four Office of Special Investigations special agents by a suicide bomber near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan—HUSTLER 6.

BUNKER 51 takes us to the Vietnam War where a bunker was overrun during the TET Offensive leaving four dead, and one badly wounded survivor.

Another takes us to Balad Air Base in Iraq, where defenders pursued the enemy outside the wire and captured 17 high-value enemies, discovered eight major arms caches and captured more than 100 heavy weapons—TF-1041.

“It’s a good way to honor the defenders who came before us and made that ultimate sacrifice so that we can continue the mission today,” he said.