Monday, July 19, 2010

Oregon Air Guard "boys in blue" were "Johnny on the Spot" for traffic accident in Grants Pass

This next entry comes courtesy of the Mail Tribune.

A couple days ago, while driving down Sixth Street in Grants Pass, I came upon a fender-bender. The Grants Pass police had not arrived on scene yet but in the intersection was parked a large, blue four-wheel drive truck with "Security Police" written on the door. Also, two young men dressed in army-type fatigues were directing traffic. One other man was wearing a dark blue uniform that looked somewhat military. Who are the Security Police and what is their function?

— Donna B., Grants Pass

Donna, you're not the only one unfamiliar with the mysterious Security Police. We checked with Medford and Grants Pass police departments, who also were not certain who or what the force in the blue truck might be.

However, we put our investigative sleuths on the SYA Fender-Bender-Tender Team to work and they came up with an accident report, thanks to a helpful clerk at the Grants Pass Police Department. Turns out the truck and its fatigue-clad occupants were from the Oregon Air National Guard.

The nearest Security Forces Squadron operates out of Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls. The base serves as the home of the Air National Guard's 173rd Fighter Wing, which is responsible for training active duty and reserve pilots to fly F-15s.

"They (the Security Police) have two separate functions," said Lt. Col. Martin Balakas, public affairs officer at Kingsley Field. "Their primary function is to provide security at the installation here. They also are trained to deploy and protect Air Force and Department of Defense installations worldwide."

While Balakas was not aware of the Grants Pass situation, he said Security Police often are on the road in their "Air Force blue" (not to be confused with Navy blue) Ford patrol trucks, participating in civic events throughout the state, traveling to and from the Guard's headquarters in Salem or visiting their sister unit, the 142nd Fighter Wing, in Portland.

"There are a lot of reasons that put us out in the community on any given day," said Balakas.

And on this given day, the men in Air Force blue were just doing their duty, Johnny-on-the-spot in someone's hour of need.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.

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