Greene County News
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE — Security forces are the first line of defense when it comes to protecting the base. However, a defender would have trouble defending it without their weapons. That’s the mission of the 88th Security Forces Squadron armory.
The armory is responsible for storing, arming and disarming, and the accountability of weapons at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
A shift change is a really busy time for the 88 SFS armorers. The sound of metallic clacks fills the air as weapons are checked to ensure they are safe and clear for storage at the armory. Shift personnel are coming off duty and turning in their weapons to an armorer at the meticulously well-organized armory where every round is accounted for. Every piece of equipment has its own storage location, neatly arranged and numbered.
“I conduct issue and turn-in for security forces and Department of Defense personnel,” said Senior Airman Levy Byler, an 88th SFS armorer. “I also pack weapons and ammo for security forces and courtesy store weapons for those who are visiting the base or in temporary living facilities and the family camp.”
With approximately 400 defenders in the squadron, maintaining all their weapons is a mission-essential responsibility.
“Our mission is to ensure everyone is armed up with the proper equipment whenever they go out to duty,” said Staff Sgt. James McGrath, Armory NCOIC. “We verify that everyone has the proper amount of rounds and the proper equipment to perform their duties.”
The type of equipment each SFS member is issued depends on the position the person is manning on their shift, so there are a variety of weapons that the armorers are responsible for.
“I am responsible for regular duty weapons such as the M9 Beretta and M4 Carbine,” Byler said. “We also have M-16 rifles and some heavy weapons.”
According to the agile combat section of the Air Force mission, deployment and sustainment are keys to successful operations and cannot be separated. Agile combat support applies to all forces, from those permanently based to contingency buildups to expeditionary forces.
Although they are not the faces of security forces people see at the gate, their mission is essential to keeping every security forces member armed and ready.
“My favorite part of the job is being able to talk to those arming up and turning in,” McGrath said. “It’s a way of networking and just checking up on how everyone is. I work next to these people almost every day and it feels right knowing that they are OK and can start their day feeling great. My job has a lot of administrative requirements to it, but I work with a bunch of good people, so that makes it better.”
The U.S. Air Force Security Forces motto is ‘Defensor Fortis’ meaning defenders of the force.
“Every day is something new. Paying attention to the small details is what really keeps this place running,” said McGrath.
It’s also a major reason why the more than 27,000 people who work at Wright-Patterson AFB can feel safer while at work.