MINOT AIR FORCE BASE - The North Dakota Air National Guard security forces squadron at Minot Air Force Base is considered the best in the Air National Guard in the United States.
That honor was announced last month by the National Guard Bureau, distinguishing the Minot AFB unit as the best out of 86 Air National Guard security forces squadrons in the U.S. in 2010.
"I am extremely proud of the professionalism, dedication and performance of all members of the 219th Security Forces Squadron who ensure the continued success of this mission day in and day out. It is a team effort that constantly displays our commitment to excellence," said Lt. Col. Tad Schauer, commander of the 219th.
Submitted Photo • 219th Security Forces Squadron members, from left to right, Jennifer Johnson, Ashley Robbins, Jessica Hanna, Tanner Bjerke and Jennifer Holly, all airmen first class, prepare for training instructions March 17 at Minot Air Force Base, shown in this photo by Senior Master Sgt. David H. Lipp. The 219th recently received notification it has been named the 2010 Air National Guard Security Forces Squadron of the Year, which recognizes the unit as the best out of 86 Air National Guard security forces squadrons in the United States.
The 219th is located at Minot AFB and its members work side-by-side with active-duty security forces with the base's 91st Missile Wing.
"This award resulted from the dedicated efforts and an unthinkably high operations tempo from all the facets of this unit, including supply, commander's support staff, medical, education/training and recruiting/retention," said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Schreiner, security forces manager for the 219th. "They all play an instrumental role in the unit's success."
With about 140 airmen assigned, the 219th is the second-largest security forces squadron in the Air National Guard; the 105th Security Forces Squadron in New York is the largest. The 219th reached full strength three months sooner than expected.
MINOT AIR FORCE BASE Tech. Sgt. Larry Torres, a member of the 219th Security Forces Squad-ron at Minot Air Force Base, was named the Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for 2010.
"Tech. Sgt. Torres has only been with the 'Happy Hooligans' for two years, but brought 14 years of active-duty experience when he arrived at the 219th Security Forces Squadron. He has deployed to 35 countries during his military career," said Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota adjutant general in Bismarck.
Torres was among other airmen honored by the North Dakota Air National Guard at its 21st annual Outstanding Airmen of the Year banquet held in the Courtyard by Marriott in Moorhead, Minn., April 2.
Torres is originally from Honolulu.
"Our members really go above and beyond the normal requirements tasked to a unit," said Master Sgt. Lonnie Ballweg, 219th Security Forces Squadron senior medical technician. "We are always under the microscope and are subject to inspection at any time. We do not operate knowing that an inspection will take place a year or so in advance. These airmen, at any given time, can and are subject to no-notice inspections to test their knowledge and the unit's management of PRP (personnel reliability program.)"
The PRP's success was among the lengthy list of accomplishments that contributed to the award.
The 219th is the first and only Air National Guard unit nationwide to have been validated for the Department of Defense-mandated program. All members of the squadron must qualify in this intensive program, which ensures that only airmen who have demonstrated reliability and professional competence are placed in these mission-critical positions. No other unit besides the 219th has ever used the program to certify drill-status Guardsmen. The program's success also contributed to the 219th Squadron's medical team being named the best Air National Guard medical unit in Air Force Global Strike Command just a few months ago.
Last year, the 219th also passed its first nuclear surety inspection, which made it the first National Guard unit to ever receive a "ready" rating from Air Force Global Strike Command. It is the only nuclear-certified unit in the Air National Guard.
Paving a trail where no other Air Guard unit has gone before can be challenging, but the 219th airmen understand the importance of their role as they work side-by-side with active-duty airmen in Minot's 91st Missile Wing to handle the nuclear security mission there.
The Guardsmen say there is zero room for error in all of their operations. While they don't deploy overseas, they deploy daily to the missile fields to support the nuclear deterrence mission of the U.S. Air Force.