Defenders show former Air Policeman modern security forces

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Victor J. Caputo
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
McConnell has been home to a multitude of missions over the years with a long list of Air Force specialty codes coming and going with various units.

One career field, even after 50 years of small adjustments and changes, has had a continuous presence here no matter what type of wing hosted the base.

The Defenders of the 22nd Security Forces Squadron hold the torch of protecting and defending the base, its personnel and assets.

A former Airman, stationed here 50 years ago as a lieutenant in the air police squadron, recently visited the 22nd SFS, where stories of the old and new Air Force were exchanged.

"I have such great memories about my time in the Air Force, particularly at McConnell," said Stephen Carlton, who separated from the Air Force shortly after serving in the Vietnam War.

Carlton, who was visiting Wichita, Kansas for the 50th memorial of the Piatt Street crash, called the 22nd SFS commander and asked about arranging a meeting with him.

"I thought it would be a great opportunity to meet with somebody who has a lot of history here at McConnell in the early days of security forces," said Maj. Robert Clouse, 22nd SFS commander. "I wanted to show him how current security forces operate."

The Defenders prepared an in-depth presentation for Carlton, including a general mission brief, a military working dog demonstration and a tour of the base to show what has and hasn't changed in the last several decades.

"His experience [in the Air Force] was very different from my experience," said Clouse. "I wanted my guys to get a healthy respect for our history."

The security forces Airmen spent a large portion of the afternoon answering and asking questions with Carlton, who emphasized how streamlined and efficient many processes have become.

The air police did not have dedicated emergency management in the early 1960s, which led Carlton to pursue an emergency management career outside the Air Force. The relatively new AFSC dedicated to emergency management was one of the biggest revelations to Carlton.

"There are things that people learned in the 1960s that we've been building on over the last 50 years," said Capt. Thomas Matechik, 22nd SFS operations officer. "They put a lot of good policies and practices into place that still work."

The Defenders were particularly interested in hearing about how Carlton handled the response to a KC-135 Stratotanker that crashed in a residential neighborhood in Wichita. Carlton was one of the initial responders and the first on-scene commander at the crash.

"It's something we're always prepared for, but don't necessarily think about day to day," said Matechik. "I had never met anybody who was the on-scene commander for an accident of that magnitude. He had a very interesting perspective for us."

A plethora of experiences and knowledge may have been exchanged between the Defenders, both old and new, but for Carlton, it was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to relive part of his glory years.

"I tremendously appreciate everything they did for me," he said. "This is an experience that I will not soon forget."