May 12, 2009 in City

Fairchild memorial honors security officers killed in Iraq, Afghanistan

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Colin Mulvany photo

Sgt. Kevin Sklark, with the Security Forces Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base, fires rounds from a mounted machine gun as the names of eight fallen comrades are read at Monday’s ceremony.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Eight Air Force security officers killed in Iraq or Afghanistan are now pictured on a memorial at Fairchild Air Force Base.

The base’s Security Forces Squadron unveiled the memorial Monday with a reading of their names, a ceremonial salute from a mounted machine gun and the playing of taps. Military personnel and civilian guests filed past the memorial to the strains of “Amazing Grace” played on a bagpipe.

The memorial is a sign of Air Force security officers’ changing role, said Maj. Jeffery Ditlevson, the 92nd Security Forces commander.

“Gone are the days when security forces remained in the rear … protecting the aircraft,” Ditlevson said. Now they work in forward areas, defending bases, working with local police and guarding convoys.

Of the eight killed in Iraq or Afghanistan, five were killed by improvised explosive devices.

While none of the eight was from Fairchild, many were serving with Fairchild security officers when they were killed, said Mike Bradshaw, a civilian employee at the base who helped organize the effort to build the memorial, a year and a half in the making.

The memorial, at the entrance to the Security Forces building, is a wall bearing a map of the Middle East and plaques for each security officer killed on the two fronts.

It also has a sculpture of a symbol for a fallen American military person: a pair of empty boots in front of an automatic rifle, barrel down, and military headgear on the rifle’s stock.

For the memorial, the security forces requested the sculpture include their service beret rather than the standard Kevlar helmet.

Bradshaw said the $11,000 for the memorial was raised mainly through donations.

Contact Jim Camden at jimc@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5461.

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