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Silent Sentinels: Gate guards, our first line of defense

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Breanna Carter
  • 90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

I wake up every morning, get ready and drive to the base for work. This is my every day routine and once I arrive to the base, I patiently wait in line to hand my ID to the gate guard. I then drive through without a second thought about the daily challenges these men and women have to overcome.

I recently had the opportunity to step back from my daily practices and see first-hand the routine of our defenders at the gate. It begins early in the morning, before the sun has begun to rise, at guard mount. This is pretty much a formation where defenders check their equipment, conduct roll call and receive their duty assignments.

After that, they’re ready to relieve those at the gate and begin their long shift.

“We’re on duty for at least 12 hours and we’re posted here about three times a week,” said Airman 1st Class Zarquis Butler, 90th Security Forces Squadron installation entry controller.

There are many challenges our defenders face at the gate, and if you’ve been at F.E. Warren long enough, then you know one of those challenges is weather. After about 45 minutes of standing at the gate my fingers were already numb and the wind in my face was intolerable, but our defenders were unbothered and set on maintaining their bearing and staying alert.

“The weather can be tough to deal with and the traffic gets backed up past the highway, but we try to keep a positive attitude,” Butler said. “We’re the first line of defense to the base and the first face that people see before entering, so knowing the importance of what we do is good motivation.”

One thing I quickly noticed is that people can be very upset about the time it takes to get through the gate.

“Sometimes people get mad at us because they feel we’re taking too long, but I have to remain calm and continue to go through my procedures,” Butler said. “I check IDs against a list of people that aren’t allowed on base or shouldn’t be driving. There are also times where we have to perform random vehicle inspections. It’s important that I don’t get distracted by those that are upset because my priority is the safety of this installation and its personnel.”

Though there are challenges, there are also good days according to Airman 1st Class Ramon Cruz, 90th SFS installation entry controller. It doesn’t take much to make their day.

“I’m a people person so I love being out here,” Cruz said. “There have been times where the command chief came out to help us and it makes you feel good to know leadership cares. There’s also times where people will drop off donuts, bagels, pizza and sometimes hot chocolate when it’s cold outside,” Cruz said. “It feels good to know people think about us.”

So there you have it. When you get used to driving through the gate, it’s easy to see our defenders simply as a checkpoint before getting to your destination, but try to keep in mind how essential they are to the mission and defending this base day in and day out.