Tyndall Security Forces Marine Patrol defends the base, the bays

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Magen M. Reeves
  • 325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Coast Guardsmen aren’t the only ones tasked with monitoring and protecting the waters surrounding the United States. Tyndall Air Force Base’s 325th Security Forces Squadron marine patrol unit oversees 129 miles of coastline encompassing 29,000 acres of Air Force property.

In order to accomplish this facet of the base defense mission, all security forces Airmen assigned to the marine patrol unit must complete National Association of State Boating Law Administrators training. NASBLA training standards are recognized by the Coast Guard and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

“The NASBLA is amazing to work with and they provide many courses and knowledge to security forces,” said Staff Sgt. Teryn Knight, 325th SFS marine patrolman. “Defenders come from all walks of life and many [don’t know] how to operate a boat. The NASBLA provides the training we need to ensure we have the knowledge to operate out in the ocean safely and effectively.”

The NASBLA provides standardized training across all 50 states as well as U.S. territories. Having a central point for standards and training ensures all Air Force installations with marine missions have the same level of boating proficiency and implementing safety practices.

“Marine patrol is a difficult mission full of unique challenges,” said Michael Bernatt, 325th SFS assistant operations officer. “The vessels and equipment are expensive to purchase and maintain but it is a rare opportunity for an Air Force mission [to have a marine patrol] so I take great pride in being part of the team.”

The marine patrol unit’s priorities are to prevent unauthorized entries onto the installation, deter potential threats from the waterways surrounding the base, and ensure the safety of all personnel, property and protection level assets including aircraft and strategic-mission entities are upheld.

“[The marine patrol] is responsible for working with our investigations section and our tactical response team to conduct surveillance…and respond to any calls for assistance from our neighboring law enforcement partners,” said Knight. “Our boat patrol section gives us the opportunity to make sure our property is secure, render aid to boats or people in distress, and to support our local law enforcement agencies if need be.”

National, state and local law enforcement partners who work regularly with Tyndall Airmen include the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Bay County Sherriff’s Office, Panama City Police Department, the Coast Guard and the Navy.

Security Forces Airmen selected for this specialized mission are expected to uphold high levels of responsibility, show exceptional leadership and be able to pass a standardized swim test.

“Being a part of this program is an unmatched feeling,” said Staff Sgt. Austin Wallace, 325th SFS marine patrolman. “Being afforded the opportunity to be a part of this unit is one of the most gratifying tasks of my career.”