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Security Forces sergeant gets in trenches, relates

By Senior Airman C. Todd Lopez

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (Oct. 19, 2001) -- So what makes a good cop anyway?

Tech. Sgt. Wallace Warren, 325th Security Forces Squadron, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, has some insight.

Staff. Sgt. Paul Evans, 72nd Security Forces Squadron, Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma, prepares a rucksack. Evans serves as flight chief for a flight of 35 Security Forces personnel, all of whom are deployed here on temporary duty. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Sorrels.

"He'll make a schedule for some 35 people. But instead of being top dog, he'll pull duty himself, taking a job at the lowest post," said Warren. "He works on the principal that if younger troops can do it, so can he. There is nothing he would ask his troops to do that he wouldn't do himself."

Warren, the NCOIC of security forces personnel who are on temporary duty here as part of Operation Northern Watch, is actually talking about one of his own troops, Staff. Sgt. Paul Evans. Evans is here from the 72nd Security Forces Squadron, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. and serves as flight chief for a flight of 35 security forces personnel. His job is to schedule deployed Security Forces personnel for the posts they stand and to direct them to the military assets they should protect.

"Sergeant Evans really works to develop a rapport with his troops," said Warren. "He tries to spend 15-20 minutes a day with each person he works with. And, usually within a week, he knows everybody in his flight. He knows their weak areas and their strong areas and he becomes aware of their problems. He comes to know them as an individual."

Taking care of the troops is simply part of the job for Evans.

"You have got to take care of your people and to look out for each other. Whether you are an E-5 or an E-1, you have to never forget where you came from as far as the posts you have worked," said Evans.

"It can be something as simple as getting water to those needing it. That seems very simple to most people, but if you are out there on the ramp and it's 100 degrees, it is important," said Evans. "People may take it for granted they can open up a refrigerator and there it is, but if you are out on the ramp and by yourself it may not be available to you."

Part of taking care of the troops also means working with them and seeing the job from their perspective even if you have done it yourself before.

"If you are working a gate and are a young troop, you may see a Security Forces NCO and think, 'He won't work this kind of post. He'll just drive by in an air-conditioned car and wave at me and tell me to take care,'" said Evans. "I have already been there, and that's why I say you don't forget where you came from. If you are in the trenches with them, with the troops, they can always respect that. They can appreciate the fact you are out there understanding what they are going through."

Evans regularly schedules himself for 14-hour shifts for the very purpose of getting in the trenches with his troops.

While he hasn't always been in the Air Force, Evans has been with the military for most of his adult life. He joined the Army National Guard out of high school where he served as an infantryman for almost three years.

"That was a lot of fun in the guard," admitted Evans. But he eventually chose the active duty Air Force for his lifetime career.

He has seen a lot of the world during his nearly 12 years of active duty service as an Air Force cop. He has served in Croatia, Korea, Germany, Kuwait, Turkey and the United States. In that time he has learned a lot about being with security forces. In particular, he has learned the universal nature of his job.

"I can imagine that a police officer out of Moscow deals with the same things that a police officer out of Minneapolis deals with," said Evans.

"It is somewhat unbelievable, but that is the same anywhere I have been," he said. "Even with the Turkish Air Force security forces, right down the line, we all see the same kind of complaints and problems."

Evans wants to be a career airman, to put in a full 20 years. And he has specific goals to meet in his remaining time. But after he retires, he says he has some different plans.

"As far as career goals, that is to do the best I can do and to see new bases, new experiences and new operations," said Evans, who will sew on another stripe in the coming months. "But after retirement, I think I want to be a teacher."

Being a teacher, an instructor, is not too far out of line for Evans. He already seems to be training, even as a Security Forces member. His pupils are the airmen who work for him.

"You teach them the bigger picture. You teach them to understand the planes go out there and win the war for us," said Evans. "You let them know their role in that, that we are part of the same team and part of the same service and we support each other. We guard those who work on the planes and fly the planes so they can go and do their jobs."

For his students, his troops, he has words he asks them to live and work by. And as a man who can get down in the trenches and work alongside those he takes charge of, he seems to have followed his own advice.

"Take pride in your job, strive to do something better, give 110 percent," said Evans. "If you are not satisfied or not certain, ask a question to get total understanding because you are dealing with weapons and with people every day. You need to be honest and to ask questions, to be inquiring and to have enough courage to say when you are wrong. Even after 12 years in the Air Force, I am still learning."