Forever watchful: Team Dover Airmen stand guard 24/7 protecting servicemembers and Air Force families

  • Published
  • By Airman Shen-Chia Chu
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
An Airman looks down into the car, carefully matching the face of the driver to that on the identification card.

The Airman hands the piece of plastic back to the driver and says, 'Thank you, sir. Have a nice day.'

Another vehicle from the long line of cars rolls up and the Airman in a black beret scans another identification card at the Dover Air Force Base Main Gate.

Many people think the job of a 436th or 512th Security Forces Squadron gate guard is monotonous, checking ID cards and vehicle registration paperwork, but many of their responsibilities go unnoticed by drivers.

"Being a gate guard is one of the hardest jobs an Airman can have," said Senior Airman Gabriel Barker, 436th SFS. "A guard could work anywhere from eight to 10 hours on their feet."

A security forces Airman's day begins early, even before he or she is checking IDs.
Just before heading out on the job, members arrive early to attend a briefing called 'guard mount.' This daily mandatory briefing gives Airmen information about incidents or news happening within the unit or base. One of the most important pieces of information is about BOLO personnel, or people to 'be on the look out' for. BOLOs are people who have been reported missing or are wanted by the Delaware State Police.

Also during guard mount, Airmen participate in open rank inspections to ensure their uniforms are in tip-top shape.

Maintaining a professional look on the job is important because they are the first and the last impression of Dover AFB that people see coming in and out of the gate everyday, said Master Sgt. Sean Smith, 436th Security Forces Squadron.

"We don't want folks out on the gate looking like they're wearing a duffel bag for a uniform," he said. "I ensure that they're fit for duty: alert, coherent and presentable."
Attentiveness on the job is critical for guards. It requires a commitment to training and discipline every time a member comes to work.

"We constantly receive and will continue to receive training on a regular basis," said Sergeant Smith. "I'm still getting trained and I've been in for 18 years."

Airmen of all ranks help each other to become better while they train 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Staff Sgt. Richard Johnson, 436th SFS. The younger Airmen learn tricks of the trade from more experienced members, while E-4s and below keep their mentors from getting stuck in their ways.

Learning augmenting duty first-hand from young Airmen at the Main Gate one Saturday afternoon was Tech Sgt. Thomas Casey, 166th Airlift Wing, New Castle County, Del.

"I have developed a lot of respect for cops after working along side with them," said Sergeant Casey, who is on orders from his Air National Guard unit. "There are times when the traffic feels unmanageable. It's a very tough job."

Working different shifts and hours, checking IDs and saluting officers is all a part of their task, but at any given time there are also anti-terrorism measures such as random vehicle inspections.

Anti-terrorism measures are taken to ensure the safety of government equipment and to ensure members aren't driving while intoxicated, using a vehicle that has mechanical problems or smuggling drugs.

And so the members of the 436th and 512th Security Forces Squadrons will stand guard over Dover AFB. They will continue providing security, every hour of everyday. In sun, rain, sleet and snow, Airmen here will protect Dover's people and its assets.