Security Forces Support Presidential Funeral

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Lynn M. Means
  • 136th Airlift Wing

Security Forces members are charged with a range of challenging responsibilities, to include the duty of standing guard, being vigilant in watching for threats to a base and protecting their fellow Airmen. Among the myriad tasks a Security Forces Airman performs, the most somber is the support of funeral services. In December, ten members from the 136th Security Forces Squadron had the honor of assisting with funeral services for George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States.

Upon receiving the request, the 136th Airlift Wing sent members to support funeral operations. The SFS immediately mobilized, providing equipment and arms to the citizen Airmen who laid aside their civilian duties and careers for two weeks to ensure order and dignity for this honorable occasion.

“The 136th SFS was the first unit to make it down to Houston the same day the call for assistance was made,” said Chief Master Sgt. Del G. Atkinson, the manager of the 136th Security Forces Squadron. “There were a lot of moving pieces to make this mission possible, but the ‘One Team, One Fight’ motto shined through and everyone pitched in from the Logistics Readiness Squadron for vehicle support to Mission Support Group administration preparing orders.”

Having received their gear, the Airmen proceeded to Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, in Houston, Texas, to augment the 147th Security Forces Squadron. Senior Master Sgt. Craig Alonzo, the operations superintendent for the 136th SFS, led the team.

“We provided manpower to support 147th SFS operations, including installation entry control, base patrol, and flightline security,” said Alonzo. “For the presidential funeral, the 147th SFS was required to operate three extra posts outside of their normal security posting, including an additional installation entry control point. The additional posts were necessary to the facilitate movement of the 800+ visitors, media, and VIPs in attendance for the ceremonies.”

The quick response and diligence of the members ensured proper security with zero incidents throughout the multi-day event. The mission set also allowed for personnel to integrate with other units and gain experience that might not otherwise be provided. Staff Sgt. Samuel Read, a combat arms instructor with the 136 SFS, shared his thoughts after the mission.

“I provided tail security for Air Force One, and secured and patrolled the flight line,” said Read. “This was the first time I’ve come in contact with the airplanes of presidential squadron. I also provided police services for the funeral detail and supported Ellington Field Security Forces. I was honored to be a part of the whole operation and able to participate as much as I did.”

To the Airmen on this team, the quick response was nothing abnormal. For Read, being able to respond to the nation’s call to service is what he signed up to do.

“My participation is simply part of my obligation to the Air National Guard and my country. I live a busy life, as most other people do,” Read said. “But I made the promise that I would answer the call of my unit (and by extension, my country).”