SF Museum Status/Update

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7 years 2 months ago #18 by johnprobst
SF Museum Status/Update was created by johnprobst
By now many if not all of you are aware there is a pending consolidation and closure of the Security Forces Museum at Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA) Lackland AFB. The pending consolidation and closure effort came as a total surprise to senior Security Forces leaders, your Security Forces Museum Foundation board members and all Security Police and Forces associations. We believe it is important to bring you the known facts as they are confirmed to help hold the rumors and untrue stories in check. While much of the pending plan is still not known and leaves dozens of questions unanswered rest assured we will get you updates as they become available. The Security Forces senior leaders are engaged and sharing their information with us.


Security Forces Museum at JBSA-Lackland AFB Update:

The Security Forces Museum Foundation met on 12 August 2014 with Ms Milita Rios-Sanmaniego, SF Museum Curator, and Mr Fernando Cortez, Airman Heritage Museum Director/Curator, to discuss the way ahead for the SF Museum. Both curators confirmed for us the SF Museum will close its doors on 15 August. The Air Force Museum will send personnel to JBSA-Lackland to inventory the collection and museum contents between 18-22 August. Following the inventory the SF Museum displays will be dismantled and go into storage until they are moved and installed in the bridge facility in March 2015. The curators stated the latest plan they were briefed on has both museums moving into the current base library. Both Mr Cortez and Ms Rios-Sanmaniego stated the bridge (interim) facility will allow near the same space each museum enjoys today and reassured the foundation they were working closely together to ensure professional displays emerge that all can be proud of. Neither of the HQ AETC/HO (history office) representatives scheduled to attend could make the meeting and cancelled last week. AFSFA will publish updates as they are available.



Additionally, the VSPA has put together a series of bullets below and links that you may find helpful in your discussions and efforts. Special thanks to Pete Piazza, Don Poss, and Steve Gattis.

We all are very concerned about this issue as are many of our leaders within active duty Security Forces, the Vietnam Security Police Association, the Safeside Association, Thailand Dog Handlers and the Air Force Security Forces Association. There many actions taking place in the background regarding the total force, our Director of Security Forces and others who know that the Security Forces Museum is not just the history of our career field since World War II. It is also part of the Security Forces Academy curriculum that preserves our history, teaches our values, and chronicles hard lessons learned in combat.

Each of us should ensure we know the facts if we decide to take a proactive role in trying to preserve our museum. The IRS rules regarding political activity that impact our tax exempt status do not apply to actions or issues like the potential closure of the Security Forces Museum. While this is an individual right we encourage you to know the facts first should you want to contact your representative ... we are stronger as one voice.

• Many of our members belong to the Security Forces Museum Foundation and have donated artifacts and financial support to ensure that our history is not only preserved but also taught to students in the Security Forces Academy to officers and enlisted personnel.

• The present building was dedicated on 1 November 1979 after many years of talking about the creation of a Security Police Museum to honor those who gave so much to the career field.

• The Security Forces Museum was constructed entirely with donations from Security Police personnel from the Active Duty, Reserves, Air National Guard, Retirees and Veterans who served as Military Policemen, Air Policemen and Security Policemen in the United States Air Force. This Security Forces Museum is a living memorial to all past, present and future USAF Defenders of the Force.

• The primary mission of the SF Museum is to preserve the history of the USAF Military Police, Air Police, Security Police and now the Security Forces career field through historical documents for research, photographs, weapons, equipment and other material. All who visit this SF Museum, especially the students attending the Security Forces Academy, not only learn about their heritage but also about our highly decorated heroes and the many who died in service.

• The collection of historical items in the Security Forces Museum have been donated and maintained as a labor of love to preserve the history and heritage of the USAF Air Police, Security Police and Security Forces since the beginning of the United States Air Force on 18 September 1947.

• The Security Forces Museum was built, renovated and maintained through donations from past and present Air Force members. Personal artifacts have been donated from keepsakes and family heirlooms, with the idea that they would be forever preserved and displayed in a location dedicated to Air Police, Security Police and Security Forces. Among the artifacts is the Air Force Cross, our Nation’s second highest award for valor, donated by Lt Colonel (Ret) Garth Wright, who was awarded the medal for extraordinary heroism at Phan Rang Air Base, Vietnam, in 1969.

• Also located on site is Nemo’s War Dog Heroes Memorial, a privately funded and constructed fully equipped sentry dog kennel adjacent to the museum building. Closure of the building will effectively abandon the memorial of the only wounded military Sentry Dog to return from the Vietnam War. Nemo was severely wounded during an attack on Tan Son Nhut Air Base in 1966. Nemo lost an eye when shot in the muzzle. His actions saved the life of his wounded handler and many others stationed at the air base. His story is told and retold as an inspiration to all who serve in Security Forces as well as those who attend training as military working dog handlers. This memorial was recently rededicated with many Security Forces personnel and Veterans in attendance, including the handler that Nemo saved.

• The Security Forces Museum and the dedication of the Southeast Asia Wing was the focal point for the 44th Anniversary of TET, the Battle of Bunker 051 at Tan Son Nhut and Bunker 10 at Bien Hoa Air Bases. Security Policeman and Air Force Cross recipient, Captain Reginald Maisey, was killed in action during that attack at Bien Hoa. Hundreds of Vietnam Veterans and Security Forces personnel attended the dedication while base personnel and families attended the Moving Vietnam Memorial Wall.

• Security Forces is the largest single AFSC career field in the USAF with its Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard units as well as Department of the Air Force (DAF) Officers stationed at Air Force and air base throughout the world.

• JBSA-Lackland Air Force Base is known as “The Gateway to the Air Force” and thousands of Airmen, NCOs and officers come there to attend basic training as well as tech schools each year. At some point the family members of those Airmen, NCOs and officers also come to visit their loved ones and spend timetouring the many historical venues on JBSA-Lackland AFB, which include the SF Museum and the Nemo War Dog Heroes Memorial.

• During any given year some Air Force veterans’ organizations i.e. Vietnam Security Police Association, Inc., Safeside Association, Thailand Dog Handlers, SAC Elite Guard Association and the Vietnam Dog Handlers Association have their reunion or meeting in San Antonio. We know that the Air Force Security Forces Association (AFSFA) comes to San Antonio and JBSA-Lackland AFB every fourth year so that their members can visit the Security Forces Academy and the Security Forces Museum.

• The Security Forces Museum houses the living history and heritage of those men and women who wear the Security Forces shield and the Blue Beret, including two Air Force Cross awards, many Silver Stars and Bronze Stars with V for valor as well as Airmen’s Medal recipients. The names of the recipients are on display for all to see what they did to earn those awards.

• There is a list of all the USAF Defenders who have given their lives for their country. Their names are posted on the “Wall of Honor” for all visitors and Security Forces students to see.

• The Security Forces Museum is the home for all those we call “Defenders of the Force.” It is a testament to those who served as Air Policemen, Security Policemen, Augmentees and Security Forces and stood their ground and did their job to “Protect and Serve” at the bases they have guarded over the years. Our legacy stands … no base protected by these men and women has ever been overrun by the enemy.

• Consolidating the Security Forces Museum with any other museum may: 1. reduce the amount of space dedicated to our service and careers; 2. place our artifacts and documents at risk; and, 3. reduce or lose current classroom space. The ability to conduct research using existing artifacts and documentation would be impacted as they are comingled with other non-Security Forces historical items and maintained by people who do not have the experience or knowledge to incorporate them into the Security Forces Academy curriculum.

• While some believe that this is a necessary budget cut within the Air Education and Training Command, the salary for the existing curator has been paid from the Security Forces budget.

• The possible closure of the Security Forces Museum or consolidation with another museum has been recommended by non-Security Forces personnel without the coordination of the Security Forces command structure. In addition not a single individual in neither the privately funded Security Forces Museum Foundation nor the Security Forces Academy were consulted. This lack of professional courtesy in staffing appears as an almost disrespectful sign toward the Security Forces career field, their veterans and senior leaders.

• The Security Forces Museum represents the history, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who have defended the Air Force’s most vital resources for over 67 years. It is also the sole center of support for the education and training of all Security Forces personnel in the Air Force and should not be consolidated with any other facility or activity. If the proposed consolidation with the Enlisted Heritage and Character Development Center is being done as a cost savings measure, it is a foolish decision that negatively impacts education of Security Forces personnel and will cost more than saves. In the long term, the Air Force’s ability to recruit new Security Force members will be affected. Recruiting and training are the Air Force’s biggest expenses. Let the Security Forces Museum continue its present role in these efforts. The Museum earns its keep.

For additional information, please refer to the following link to view the presentation and overview of collections in the Security Forces Museum (securityforcesmuseum.org/).

Should you consider writing or calling your congressional representatives, please keep in mind that we must approach this issue with professionalism and tact so that we not only represent our members but also support Security Forces leadership in their effort to preserve our museum.

Click to Find Your Congressional Representatives’ Names and Emails (all you need to do is enter your 5-Digit ZIP Code).
www.house.gov/htbin/findrep
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7 years 2 months ago #29 by Wardog72
Replied by Wardog72 on topic SF Museum Status/Update
John, we've obviously been dealt a really poor hand. Many folks on the social media (ie Facebook) sites are chomping at the bit and may well lack a lot of the understanding of procedures and such that members of the Foundation fully understand. Does the Foundation plan on using social media to maintain the fine line they have to walk and still try to quell the rage and direct it in an appropriate direction?

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7 years 2 months ago #31 by johnprobst
Replied by johnprobst on topic SF Museum Status/Update
You are spot on! There is a lot of misinformation floating around and many are not clear on the roles of the AF, the AF Museum Program and the SF Museum Foundation. Pete Piazza, VSPA President, and I talked yesterday about how some of the same questions are coming up again and again from very concerned present and past Defenders. A series of Q &As will be posted on this page late today to help clarify some of the background issues and questions. Thanks for making this point. John Probst

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7 years 2 months ago #37 by johnprobst
Replied by johnprobst on topic SF Museum Status/Update
MGen (ret) Mary Kay Hertog requested AFSFA post this email:

I have received many emails from people about the Museum closure, along with the AFSF Association emails, and I wanted to make a few comments. I'm sorry to hear SF was given zero prior notice about this decision--that was a foul. But I have to tell you this has been coming for years. I, with the help of others, intervened several times to stave off the closure as far back as 12 years ago. I believe it was Pat Bowden who came up with the great idea to change the SF Basic Apprentice course to have our new Airmen in training spend an hour in the Museum to learn about their heritage. This brought up our visitor numbers in a huge way and justified keeping the Museum open. Lackland is the only installation in the AF that supports two museums, and if one has to close, it will usually be the one with the least amount of visitors.

When I was the Director of Security Forces I was contacted about AETC not being able to keep both museums open because they couldn't afford the salaries of two curators. I made the offer to AETC to pay our curator's salary (Milita) out of SF funds. They agreed to that and that has kept the museum open for a few more years. In my group and wing commander positions at Lackland and as the Top Cop at 2AF/CC, I was able to keep tabs on the museum and its status.

But it's a very different and difficult time now and the AF, as well as the other Services, are in dire fiscal straits due to sequestration and other issues. The AF is taking drastic measures to save money and continue its missions. Much of the cuts are coming from big personnel reductions such as selective early retirements (4 SF colonels this year have to leave early), reduced accessions in basic training, and changing high year of tenure rules to get more people out (requiring majors and lieutenant colonels in certain year groups to meet retention boards, and oh, by the way, if an officer successfully makes it past a board this year it doesn't guarantee he is exempt from future boards.) And there is so much more the AF is trying to do to save money and gain efficiencies, all painful to someone.

So I would ask everyone to think about the people losses versus the buildings that we are going to lose. We may not have our original museum building anymore, but we will never lose our identity as a career field. Our proud heritage and current performance of our outstanding cops around the world will never allow that to happen. But we are part of the AF and therefore we are going to be subject to sacrifices too.

I understand we will have displays in other locations. I've heard it's the Base Library and I've also heard it may go into the new Enlisted Heritage and Character Development Center. If it's the EHCDC that's great news because thousands of people (parents and our graduated Airmen) pass through that building every Thursday and Friday during the weekly BMT grad ceremonies and that will expose a huge number of people to SF.

There have been some very negative and downright nasty posts on Facebook from people who don't have the full story of what the AF is having to do just to accomplish our mission. Frankly, I'm disappointed by that kind of unprofessional reaction. This is not a personal attack against the SF career field and I hope you can help me spread the word on the very tough fiscal environment the Services are operating in and why these decisions are being made. And the fiscal picture isn't getting any better. There will be even greater changes coming to the career field in the near future which will cause great concern too, but there's no doubt in my mind SF will make the necessary transition and continue to excel in the tremendous missions we do around the world.

Mahalo--
Mary Kay Hertog, Maj Gen (ret)

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7 years 2 months ago #38 by skyking
Replied by skyking on topic SF Museum Status/Update
As I've said before it is due to budget cuts. Was it handled properly? likely not. Why don't we work with Lackland in providing input and help in relocating the artifacts into the temporary and then permanent locations? This is assuming of course that they let us.

CMSgt Norm King

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7 years 2 months ago #39 by johnprobst
Replied by johnprobst on topic SF Museum Status/Update
Chief, while I cannot speak for the SF Museum Foundation, as a board member I believe that will be the board's focus once the inventory is complete. The SF Museum Foundation already had a number of projects pending that will still improve the next location considerably. The board president Bernie DeNisio will probably address this in the near future on the SF Museum Foundation website.

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