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Joint Base Andrews News

NEWS | June 1, 2020

Refueling During Uncertain Times

By Lt. Col. David Herndon 11th Security Forces Group

Like many, for me the past few weeks have been exhausting. We watched with pride as America triumphantly launched our countrymen into space from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade. Conversely, many were saddened by scenes of police brutality, rioting and a cluttered information environment where social media activity and conversations illuminated the best and worst of society. 

These challenges are made even more difficult with the persistent and troubling realities of coronavirus, which continues to take lives around the globe, morphing our norms and way of life. The cumulative effect has many of our colleagues, families and friends on edge, struggling to make sense of it all. 

Afforded with the honor and privilege of command, I’ve asked our leadership team to take a “glass half-full” approach and seek to focus on our sacred duty to deliver defender excellence to Joint Base Andrews and mission partners around the globe. This starts with caring for our defenders and their families and removing obstacles that allow our Airmen to sprint toward organizational, professional and personal goals.   

While we cannot, and should not, ignore the truths and struggles our nation faces, we must continue to celebrate the great accomplishments of Airmen as they also wrestle with similar thoughts, emotions and exhaustion. 

As I pause and reflect on the men and women of the 11th Security Support Squadron, I am lifted emotionally and inspired by their sacrifices and operational excellence. We are entrusted with defending Joint Base Andrews, providing military working dog capabilities to national leaders around the globe, and preparing Airmen for a range of home-station and expeditionary requirements. Our incredible defenders are navigating these trying times and an uncertain future with rarefied poise and dedication. 

Two of our defenders, Staff Sgt. Samantha Frydenlund and Senior Airman Tyler Cisneros, both 11th SSPTS MWD handlers, recently returned from a short-notice U.S. Secret Service mission where they delivered MWD explosive detection capabilities to national leaders attending NASA’s historic launch at 
Cape Canaveral, FL. This is routine business for these two, as the squadron assumes nearly half of the Department of Defense’s USSS MWD tasks. Their ability to seamlessly integrate at the highest levels of our Federal government speaks volumes about their readiness to execute when called upon by our nation.

Then we have defenders such as Tech Sgt. Joshua Matz, Staff Sgt. Joshua Grudznske and Senior Airman Caitlyn Truax, who are not only readying our 11th Security Forces Group members to deploy around the globe, but, in light of the global pandemic, are also partnering with the Pentagon to rapidly acquire and deliver personal protective equipment to defenders across the installation. Our Airmen have teamed with the AFWERX, a community of Air Force innovators, to test, evaluate and deliver items that reinforce the execution of our wing’s no-fail mission. Members of the 11th SFG cherish these mobility and supply warriors and their execution is unmatched.     

We even have defenders like Tech Sgt. Benny Dorman and Tech Sgt. TJ Rowland, 11th SSPTS members, who bid farewell to their families and friends to provide security forces capabilities and leadership in a deployed environment. The impact of their departures was abundantly clear as a host of members from the squadron and beyond said their goodbyes at odd hours before both Airmen departed our group’s guard mount room. Their attitudes and approaches to daily operations here at JBA will contribute to the 
overwhelming advantage our battlefield commanders enjoy overseas.

The list continues with our combat arms instructors and our training Defenders. They continue to enhance the readiness and lethality of our Airmen across the National Capital Region. Also our Visitor Control Center operators and S-5 plans and programs professionals, who are stitched into, and driving, daily installation defense operations.  

These Airmen are indicative of a squadron and wing which continues its vital mission despite a plethora of national and global challenges. However, while many thrive during these periods, we cannot ignore that some of our wingmen, including myself, are faced with emotional tolls and struggles that require care and compassion. Some view declarations like this as cliché, but Airmen at JBA who are struggling in this moment should know that my door is always open to listen and help process possibly unfamiliar emotions during awfully turbulent times.

Taking a bit of liberty to speak on behalf of all 11th Wing command teams, you, meaning our Airmen, civilians and families, are extremely inspiring. It is our priority to work every day to be worthy of serving as your leadership teams. While recent days have stretched me emotionally, nearing exhaustion, I am  refueled by the excellence of our Airmen and I simply want to take time to salute them and their families. 

Refueled and grateful!