Misawa honors fallen comrades during Police Week
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Easily identifiable by their blue berets, 35th Security Forces Squadron members are the first ones to welcome visitors to Misawa Air Base. Protecting and defending those who serve is their daily mantra, and sometimes it comes with the ultimate price.
In recognition of this, Misawa defenders honored fallen police officers, military and civilian alike, during Police Week, May 16-20.
"Police Week means so much to me because my father was a police officer," said Staff Sgt. Melissa Dierlam, the 35th SFS vehicles NCO in charge. "I grew up seeing him leave for work in his uniform and understanding there was always a chance he wouldn't return."
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation which designated this memorial week to coincide with May 15, Peace Officers Memorial Day.
An opening ceremony kicked off the week, with Team Misawa members gathering as defenders laid roses for all security forces, Air Force Office of Special Investigations and Master at Arms personnel killed in action.
"Hearing their stories aloud during the ceremony really makes you appreciate and honor each member and their sacrifice," said Dierlam.
Defenders also hosted a static display in the base exchange parking lot, showcasing baton movements, weapons, vehicles and a military working dog display.
"I think it's awesome for security forces to show off all their equipment to the base," said Samantha Patterson, spouse of Tech. Sgt. Arthur Patterson, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron NCO in charge of water and fuel maintenance. "Besides seeing them at the gate, the hands-on activities really provides a good display of what security forces does."
Throughout the week, defenders also challenged themselves during a memorial ruck march, an Airmen versus NCO football game and a race, which tested their physical fitness, knowledge and teamwork skills. The week concluded with a retreat and flag folding ceremony.
"Although [some] have been painting a negative picture of police officers, I ask Team Misawa to see past the negative," said Dierlam. "We are not just badges and guns, we are people and we are here to make Misawa a safer place."