Staff Sgt. Anthony Haylock, a Defense Courier Service courier based out of Fort Meade, Md., examines documentation with to Airman 1st Class Don DeWitt, an communications security accoutant with the 436th Communications Squadron, Sept. 25, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The DCS couriers transport and deliver various packages throughout the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)
Army Sgt. Marcus Atchison, a Defense Courier Service courier based out of Fort Meade, Md., transfers a classified package to Airman 1st Class Don DeWitt, a communications security accountant with the 436th Communications Squadron, Sept. 25, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The DCS couriers transport and deliver various packages throughout the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Adrian R. Rowan)
by Airman 1st Class Samuel Taylor
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
9/25/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- When the military requires a delivery of goods too important to entrust to the local post office, it relies on U.S. Transportation Command's Defense Courier Division. These soldiers, sailors, and Airmen ensure the safe delivery of highly-classified items across the globe.
Two such couriers are Army Sgt. Marcus Atchison and Staff Sgt. Anthony Haylock, DCS couriers based out of Fort Meade, Md. Though hailing from different services and careers, both share a passion for their special duty.
"I love this job," said Atchison. "We have no standard workday or regular customer. I have seen places that I would not have seen otherwise."
The bread and butter of courier duty is transporting and transferring goods. At a moment's notice, couriers can be tasked to board a flight destined for a location across the globe. Their deliveries can take the form of a small package or a 1,200-pound pallet, but all of them are gravely important.
"Every day, we are carrying items critical to national security," said Haylock. "We never know what is in the package - we don't have a need to know - but we know it's valuable or else we wouldn't be carrying it."
The cargo's value necessitates the strict security measures taken by couriers. Packages are usually hand-carried at all times; if the cargo's size does not permit this, frequent security inspections are completed. When transfers occur, couriers issue a series of challenge questions and verification measures to the recipient to ensure the item is transferred properly and securely. Needless to say, a detail-oriented individual has an edge in this line of work.
"Yes, attention to detail is crucial," said Atchison. "Other than that, it's all about professionalism, hard work and punctuality. If someone has those qualities, they will enjoy this job."
Contrary to what one may expect, Atchison says the transportation requirements do not preclude service members with families from joining.
"Actually, this job allows more time with my family; otherwise, I would be deployed twice per year," said Atchison.
Atchison, like other couriers, is stationed at one of 18 defense courier stations scattered throughout the world. Each station differs in size and personnel, ranging from eight to 30, depending on mission scope. From San Diego to South Korea, the couriers form a global network for the transfer of goods that ultimately save American lives.
"There is a recent story of a former courier that was back in his original career and deployed," said Atchison. "After waiting for days, he received an item from a defense courier that enabled him to save the lives of his troops. He saw the importance of his job come full-circle. That's what we do."
10/12/2012 2:24:28 PM ET My tour as a courier was the best assignment EVER