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    Safeside Reunion exposes 820th BDG to heritage

    Safeside Reunion exposes 820th BDG to heritage

    Photo By Airman 1st Class Azaria Foster | Safeside Association members pose for a picture Nov. 8, 2019, at Moody Air Force Base,...... read more read more



    Story by Airman Azaria Foster 

    23d Wing Public Affairs

    The 820th Base Defense Group (BDG) hosted the biennial Safeside Reunion, November 7-9, here.

    Safeside Association members, a group of past and present defenders, came together to bond during a three-day event.

    “[Safeside] allows us to have a better connection with our legacy and grants us the ability to be able to see what those men went through,” said Airman 1st Class Brandon Shleis, 824th Base Defense Squadron fireteam member. “It builds a brotherhood and comradery between vets and ourselves and helps motivate me to live up to the standards they’ve set.”

    Operation Safeside was established in 1966 as the Air Force’s first concept of providing outside-the-wire security for its bases and is the mission of today’s 820th BDG.

    “It’s important for the [new generation] to see what these guys started,” said Scott Shay, a Safeside Association member. “It gives them a chance to see their friends and talk to former teammates and leaders.”

    Retired Gen. Ronald Fogleman, formerly the Air Force chief of staff and the event’s guest speaker, attended the Safeside Reunion in hopes of seeing an old friend, Brig. Gen. Richard Coleman. Both men played a key role in the 820th BDG’s formation and gained a long-lasting friendship in the process.

    “My connection to the 820th goes back to its formation in 1997,” Fogleman said. “The head of Security Police in the United States Air Force was Brig. Gen. [Richard] Coleman. I was the chief of staff. In June of 1996 we had the Kohbar Towers bombing and there was a lot of publicity around it. So, he outlined for me what he had in mind … in terms of revitalizing a force that could protect airfields and protect Airmen. I was a Vietnam veteran. I had seen airfield attacks over there and I was supportive of it. The day we activated the 820th, I was in San Antonio as the chief and presided over the activation ceremony. So, I’ve been a part of [the 820th] since day one.”

    The Safeside Reunion promotes comradery through events, such as a memorial service for their fallen brethren, current capabilities demonstration and golf tournament.

    “I was invited [to the Safeside Reunion] by Gen. Coleman … he encouraged me to come see the results of what we formed,” Fogleman continued. “I’m glad that I [came]. I got to see what the current force is all about and where they’re going.”

    Though the equipment, weapons systems and strategies have advanced from the Vietnam era, the mission is still the same.

    “The thing I thought was very well done is that … they had one [squadron] talk about Vietnam’s history,” said Fogleman. “They had one talk about war [on] terror and a presentation on all the changing strategies and where we are going. It reminded people of the history but also looked [at] the different [advancements] as we go forward.”



    Date Taken: 11.18.2019
    Date Posted: 11.18.2019 15:33
    Story ID: 352217

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