Story by SrA Crystal Jenkins on 05/27/2019In commemoration of National Police Week, the 673d Security Forces Squadron held a unique Defender Family Day event May 16, 2019, centered around what a day in the life of a defender typically looks like at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The full-day event highlighted the training and work SFS members do daily, emphasizing what it means to be on the front line and how the job impacts the U.S. Air Force mission every day.
"A Defender Family Day is important because it allows our spouses and family members to see some of the training we go through, as well as some missions and areas we safeguard," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Dane Johnson, the 673d SFS officer in charge of logistics. "We go to work early in the morning and come back late at night. Most have a sense of what we do, but they don't really get to see what we are protecting. That can be hard to make sense of. I'm hoping by taking this tour the participants gained a working knowledge of what their parent or significant other does on a day-to-day basis."
Although defenders are assigned to an eight-hour shift on a typical day, that can turn into 12 or 15 hours, depending on what might have transpired. In addition to the relentless hours of staying vigilant, armoring, mounting and dismounting also takes a significant amount of time outside the slotted shift.
"When I think of a defender, I think of an Airman who most of the time is by himself having to make major life-changing decisions, not only for himself but for the person they are interacting with," Johnson said. "At the end of the day we're here to defend people, assets, and resources and that defense comes because we are willing to put our lives on the line. Police Week helps us remember what that means."
To educate family members, the event featured static weapons displays, a multiple interactive learning objectives (MILO) shooting-and-driving simulator, tours of an E-3 Sentry and an F-22 Raptor aircraft, a tour of the 673d SFS K-9 unit, and a military working dog demonstration.
"It was very important for me to attend because as spouses, we don't really get to see the areas we hear them talk about defending," said Kendra Villalpando, wife of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Justin Villalpando, 673d SFS noncommissioned officer in charge of base access. "Being able to see the assets they protect up close was very eye-opening as to how their jobs impact the overall Air Force mission. I never realized how important the defender's role was in protecting these high-dollar or secure assets."