377th SFG Unveils Renovated Heritage Room -- Showcases History of Defenders

By A1C Ireland Summers, 377th ABW Public Affairs, 9 March 2021

 U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ashley A. Kurtz, 377th Security Forces Group flight chief, presents new artifacts added to the 377th Security Forces Group Heritage Room on Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, March 5, 2021. The new updates include display cases with historical items such as uniforms worn during the Vietnam War, newspaper articles, vinyl photographs and a photographic timeline of the unit's history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers)


The 377th Security Forces Group unveiled renovations to their Heritage Room on Kirtland Air Force Base, March 5, 2021. 

The Heritage Room, which has been used since 1966 by defenders for guard mount, was updated with historical pieces and pictures to tell their story.

“When Airmen arrive in a new unit, they usually arrive with the mentality of learning to complete the mission and rarely get the opportunity to learn about, much less see, the history of the unit they are assigned,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ashley A. Kurtz, 377th SFG flight chief. “Airmen assigned to the 377th SFG are given a rare opportunity to view items on display [that were] worn and utilized by defenders once assigned to Kirtland Air Force Base.”

Kurtz, who was part of the team responsible for the idea and completion of the renovations, said that it was inspiring to see, read and understand the accomplishments of the defenders that came before her.

The updates to the heritage room include newly painted walls, display cases showcasing an MRE accessory packet and uniform items worn by a defender during the Vietnam War, newspaper articles, vinyl photographs and a photographic timeline of the unit's history.

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Brady L. McCoy, 377th SFG chief enlisted manager, spoke about what the Heritage Room means to him.

“To me, this room is a place where I can see where I came from,” said McCoy. “It is a place where heroes are represented. It gives me a chance to reflect on past missions as air police, security police and security forces. The room is a place to tell stories, share experiences across all ranks, active and retired, and see my roots in the Air Force.”

McCoy said that the Heritage Room allows future defenders to see where their legacy comes from and to see why they do what they do.

“Our story in the 377th SFG will now endure for many, many years to come,” said McCoy.

With the Heritage Room finished, the bunker will now undergo renovations that will be revealed at a later date.

Your 2021 AFSFA National Meeting in Nashville!

If you have never attended an AFSFA National Meeting this year’s in Nashville would be a great place to start! The Old Hickory Tennessee Chapter is our host and the 35th annual AFSFA National Meeting is shaping up to be one to remember. So let me see if I can entice you to join us this August with a general outline.

We will be based at The Inn at Opryland, 2401 Music Valley Drive, Nashville, TN 37214 from 18-22 August 2021. You may now call the Reservations Center at 1-800-901-4211 and mention Air Force Security Forces Association 35th National Reunion Meeting Room Block to reserve a room at our group rate. You can also go online at: https://tinyurl.com/8y88k98n  Members are allowed to book an additional 2 days before and after the meeting at the same rate.

If you click on the link above it will take you to our special group rate on the Inn at Opryland webpage. The reservation link allows them to book rooms over the dates of Sunday, 15 August 2021 thru Tuesday, 24 August 2021 (check-out on Wednesday, 25 August 2021). The room rates are guaranteed up to 16 July 2021, after that they may not be available.

The room rates are: $150.00 plus tax, for exterior rooms and $160.00 for interior rooms, single/ double occupancy in each room and includes a complimentary continental breakfast, free parking, free Wifi and complimentary shuttle service to Gaylord Opryland Resort, Grand Old Opry, Opry Mills Shopping & Dining Center and the General Jackson Showboat. Gaylord Airport Shuttle Service is $19.00 one-way or $35.00 round trip. Taxi is $25.00 one way.

The relatively new Wednesday small batch tour on 18 August will highlight and visit local Music City attractions and include lunch. There are plenty of shopping and dining options in Music Valley within walking distance and some with live entertainment at lunch and dinner.

Thursday morning options include: the early morning golf tournament or the three, free professional security training seminars worth continuing education credits. Certificates will be provided and the seminars are free to members and all Defenders in the Nashville area. You will want to arrive Wednesday evening for either event.

Members will start picking up their registration packets in the Pennington Room just off the hotel lobby Thursday at 1600 and the Meet and Greet Social will start at 1800.

Both Friday and Saturday morning General Membership Meetings typically run from 0800 to 1200ish hours and are open to members, spouses and guests. Friday evening and Saturday afternoon are open with no events planned.

Our Annual Banquet is on Saturday evening and starts at 1800 and is full of great food and unbeatable fellowship. At 0900 on Sunday we gather and pause to remember our Fallen Defenders and then … we reluctantly say our goodbyes until the next year.

Throughout most of the weekend there is a hospitality room in the hotel for all to relax in and enjoy … also known as the “war story room” and you want to make sure you don’t leave home without your coin! But just in case you did or you want to start your Christmas shopping early or you need something new for your “I love me wall” …. the AFSFA Country Store and most of the chapters will have lots of memorabilia for sale.

AFSFA will mail detailed registration packets to all AFSFA members in June.

Hope to see you’all there!


One Man's Passion Leads to Successful Police Hiring Rate
24 February 2021, By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News

It might take a village to raise a child, as the saying goes, but sometimes a single person can make a difference in something as large as the Defense Department's law-enforcement field.

The colleagues of Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Copper Jr. say he did just that when a need arose for a direct-hire authority to get civilian DOD peace officers around the world hired in a timely manner, and to make sure the law-enforcement mission continued without staff shortages. There are about 9,200 people in DOD law enforcement, excluding military police.

The lieutenant colonel was one of many Pentagon peace officers. He made sure the Air Force got the direct-hire authority when the issue first arose in 2018, and that authority has progressed DOD-wide because of his efforts, his colleagues said.

Copper passed away in August 2020. In December, he was posthumously awarded the first Law Enforcement Officer Certification because of his commitment to the Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission, in addition to his work on the direct-hire authority. He was the Air Force commissioner of POST.

"Brian was a wonderful person and a great patriot; his enthusiasm was contagious. He is greatly missed." Shelley A. Verdejo, Director, Peace Officer Standards and Training Commission

Receiving his officer's commission in 2001 after military enlistment in 1989, Copper commanded squadrons within security forces at multiple locations throughout his career.

"He knew firsthand as a young airman and [non-commissioned officer] what it meant to be a law enforcement professional, and how important training was to those guys who are out there on the front lines. He had a unique perspective, having done it as an airman and then as a commander in a unit," Vince Heitmaan, senior law enforcement advisor to the office of the undersecretary of intelligence and security, said.

"Lt. Col Copper was very involved with making sure that all the partners within the department including [the military services] were all aware that we were pursuing this initiative, and that if we did it as a collective group, we'd have much more success," Jorge Vargasmorales, an action officer with the POST training and force development division, explained.

Copper, he noted, was quite instrumental in providing the points-of-contact that others collaborated with and they were able to obtain the DOD-wide hiring authority. The department-wide authority was issued in September 2020.

"Our goal is to make this a permanent direct-hire authority that will be included in the national defense," Vargasmorales explained, adding there are also 26 members of the law enforcement caucus in Congress. "When they were made aware [of the direct-hire authority], they were excited and had significant interest to make sure that these types of efforts become [reality]," he said of the caucus.

Among the military services, hiring and retention issues fell to the wayside, Vargasmorales added. It now takes about 86 days to hire a peace officer, and the fastest hire took only 50 days.

Dedicated to the direct-hire authority for use throughout the DOD, Copper was intimately involved in the effort and attended meeting after meeting to make sure the authority came to fruition, his colleagues said.

"He was a unique individual," Vargasmorales said. "He was passionate about everything. Whenever he put his effort behind something, it was always all or nothing with him. On the [direct-hire authority], he was instrumental in educating senior leaders, too."

Copper, he noted, could translate what is traditionally a very complex process in simple, understandable, bite sizes for leaders, he said.

"He was always the person who was an inclusion guy," Vargasmorales said. "He was really big on making sure that we all knew what each other was doing. He was always very open to expanding the conversation."

Cooper could light up a room when he entered. "We felt Brian exuded all of the things we would want law enforcement officers in the Department of Defense to be," Shelley A. Verdejo, POST director and chief of the law enforcement division in USD (I&S), said. "Brian was a wonderful person and a great patriot; his enthusiasm was contagious. He is greatly missed."







Brig Gen Collins and CMSgt Lewis would like to congratulate and wish their best to the colonel selects:












Promotion to 0-6 recognizes the significant dedication to the Security Forces mission of defending the base. Thank you for your hard work and congratulations again on this milestone achievement.

VR – R.
Director of Security Forces

From the Security Forces Directorate: Year in Review

Defenders -

2020 has been a fast-paced year for Defender Nation. Our Security Forces Enterprise navigated tough decisions on security and risk to maintain unblinking security for our installations at home and abroad. We enable the Department of the Air Force to fly, fight and win in air, space, and cyberspace. To continue this success, we must be ready to respond to emerging threats across all domains.

The top priority as Security Forces leaders, is to protect the Air Force community while safeguarding and maintaining our ability to defend the nation and its interests. We will continue to protect our people and our mission.

COVID-19 placed force health protection into the forefront of our efforts.  We will continue to ensure that Defenders have the most up-to-date information and resources on appropriate measures to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

The risk-based measures we are taking are consistent with guidance from the Department of the Air Force, Department of Defense and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We put safety procedures in place for handling of identification cards, distancing and personal protective equipment.  I  am exploring the fielding of even more protective measures to include leveraging technology, where feasible and acceptable.

I understand these restrictions cause hardships on Defenders, families, and local communities. I encourage everyone to lean on their commands for support and guidance during this challenging time.

Defenders remain safe by practicing both professional “on the job” and personal “down time” safety protocols that ensure a high level of readiness. A personal safety focus ensures we mission success.

I am committed to preserving the ability of Defenders to execute mission-essential tasks worldwide.  To do this, our Defenders must continue receiving world-class training that outpaces our adversaries.  This is only be achieved through repetition and a culture of continuous improvement. This training does not stop during a COVID environment. In fact, we took an in-depth look at our Civilian, Enlisted and Officer Academy training to determine what precautions our cadres and trainees required to continue to produce Defenders while COVID infection rates continued to rise.  

As we navigated our way through the COVID crisis, we also had to look at our security and training processes related to the law enforcement protests over the summer. We found a few areas for improvement and although our senior leaders have a high level of satisfaction in Defender responses and decision-making to properly secure our installations, missions, families and each other, we did find some areas where we can – and will – do better.

I am especially proud of the progress we made this year on the Security Forces Enterprise Plan. Below are a few areas that show the elements we are prioritizing for success:

  • Human Capital: We pushed through the Direct Hire Authority to ensure entry level equitable pay with local Law Enforcement. We also revamped the Civilian-Enlisted-Officer (CEO) Training Academy to ensure proficient civilian forces.
  • Weapons: We continue to standardize our equipment, facilities and technology to enjoy efficiencies for funding, training and procurement. This makes us interoperable and multiplies the force. We started fielding the new M18 handgun and will continue fielding that and other weapons.
  • Equipment: We must raise our Defenders to a level where they perform at their best. We can only accomplish this performance level by setting high expectations and investing in them. Female Body Armor is one example of how the Air Force is investing in Defenders during the Year of Integrated Base Defense.
  • Defensive Base Operations: As part of the Year of Integrated Base Defense the Air Force is standing up a Defensive Base Operations Division to counter emerging air threats via a cross-functional Air Base Defense approach, leveraging existing technology while rapidly developing next-generation capabilities.
  • Technology Modernization: We must be demanding customers of industry and Air Force partners to seek out next-generation equipment and technology decisive for the battlefield. Teaming with AFOSI, the AF Justice Information System was put online in ten months, fulfilling a congressional mandate and has already made significant progress.

Defenders are true professionals. They maintain unblinking security every day with a smile and a commitment to do what’s right. Senior leaders impeccably trust in our Defenders’ responses and decision-making to properly secure our installations, missions, families and each other.

We will enter 2021 continuing to look at our policies, procedures and readiness. Together we will organize, train, and equip to ensure all Defenders remain proficient and ready. 

I look forward to what comes next for Defender Nation.

Brig Gen Collins

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35th National Meeting
The Inn at Opryland
2401 Music Valley Drive
Nashville, TN 37214

17-22 August 2021
Group: AFSFA 35th Nat Mtg

36th National Meeting
Dayton, OH
21-25 September 2022