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Defender Memorial Wall

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Evan J. Lichtenhan
  • Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

The 91st Security Forces Group, 5th Maintenance Squadron, 5th Force Support Squadron and 5th Security Forces Squadron collaborated to create a memorial wall of the 14 security forces Airmen who have fallen in the line of duty since the tragedy of Sep. 11, 2001. The memorial wall is a key component in preserving the memory of the Security Forces Airmen who have given their lives for the United States of America. 

“This is a representation of those who had to pay the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of our mission,” said TSgt. Jason Hoffman, 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron defender. “It serves to inspire every new defender coming to this unit, and our career field, for them to understand that this is their adopted heritage. They are part of this legacy, and it gives them a glimpse of what we [security forces Airmen] are here to do.”   

The portraits were donated by SSgt. Ashton Lord, 55th Security Forces Squadron, Offutt Air Force Base, N.E. defender. Her grandfather, Mr. Donald Smith painted the 14 portraits right after his diagnosis of dementia.  

The memorial wall is in the same room where security forces Airmen have guard mount, which is a pre-shift official formation. This room was not chosen at random.  The reason for this location is so that the security forces Airmen have an opportunity to reflect upon the bigger picture and the mission as a whole, before they begin their shift.

“It’s a lot bigger than just some pictures of people that died,” said Alexis Roseboom, 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron defender. “Those people are the reason that we are still here and none of those Airmen were over the age of 32. We actually have to care for one another. When you pull security on assets, or you’re even pulling security on the gate, or just checking IDs everyday, a lot of people begin to think their job is very minute, but it’s not. We can’t just take a break. We must constantly be vigilant and constantly be on watch 24/7. If you do need to take a knee, which is okay, you have to make sure you can trust the person taking over for you.”  

Senior Airman Alexandra Lugo, 791st Missile Security Forces Squadron defender,  said the memorial brings security forces Airmen closer together and helps them realize that being a defender is not only a job, but a culture. 

“Most of us defenders are like a big family,” said Lugo. “For instance, I have only known Roseboom for two months and we are already really close.  Being part of defender culture is really just about caring for others. Yeah, we have to put on this uniform, and yeah, we have to work with each other, but it’s a lot bigger than that. When they unveiled the wall it took me a second to realise that these people fought for something that is bigger than me and bigger than any of us.”