From the Frontlines: SrA Gaetano Acevedo

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Senior Airman Gaetano Acevedo, 509th Contracting Squadron, volunteers as a member of the base honor guard on his deployment in Southwest Asia. Acevedo is currently deployed for a six-month rotation to the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron force protection security escort flight. Acevedo’s role in force protection is Pass and ID liaison. He ensures all contractors have a reason to be on base. He also takes time out of his schedule to be a part of the honor guard team and the Rising IV, a deployed Airmen’s Council. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte) (RELEASED)

SOUTHWEST ASIA – Senior Airman Gaetano Acevedo, 509th Contracting Squadron, volunteers as a member of the base honor guard on his deployment in Southwest Asia. Acevedo is currently deployed for a six-month rotation to the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron force protection security escort flight. Acevedo’s role in force protection is Pass and ID liaison. He ensures all contractors have a reason to be on base. He also takes time out of his schedule to be a part of the honor guard team and the Rising IV, a deployed Airmen’s Council. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte) (RELEASED)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo, -- Force protection escorts are charged with monitoring and safeguarding local and third-country nationals working on base - a task that, without FPs, would be performed by security forces Airmen.

They call themselves "the ghosts for the base." Their work almost goes unnoticed, but the 386th force protection security escort flight plays a critical role in base security.

Senior Airman Gaetano Acevedo (Ace), 509th Contracting Squadron, is currently deployed for a six-month rotation to the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing located in Southwest Asia as an escort flight member.

Their duties range from escorting TCNs to a myriad of construction projects to landscaping, sewage removal, grounds cleaning, trash removal and maintenance.

Acevedo's role in force protection is Pass and ID liaison. He ensures all contactors have a reason to be on the base and processes all their paperwork needed to gain base access.

"We play a critical role in base security as we are the last set of eyes on the contractors after they come through all base security," Acevedo said.

After the paperwork is processed and the contractors are allowed on base, Acevedo releases them to the escorts.

Pass and ID liaison involves having direct contact with our host nation allies.

"My position ensures more than $23 million in projects are accomplished successfully and in a timely manner," Acevedo said. "Contractors play a critical role in the mission and we do not have the manpower to do all the work ourselves. This program allows the 386th AEW airmen to focus on their primary missions without having to worry about processing contractors on base."

Although Acevedo spent the majority of his time covering a critical part of the war-winning strategy, he also spent time serving others on base.

"I participate with the Rising IV, which is the deployed Airmen's Council," he said. "I was elected vice-president of the organization. We organize, plan and execute a number of events for Airmen such as professional development, volunteering activities, fundraising and morale-building events."

Acevedo's positive and encouraging attitude towards challenges make him stand out from his peers according to Tech. Sgt. Tica Baum, 509th CONS supervisor.

"He enjoys sitting down with the new Airmen and sharing his views on how to succeed and gives them advice," Baum said. "I am sure he does the same at his deployed location. Ace is always looking for a challenge and wants to make a difference. From his first day here - he repeated his desire to deploy. His 'I can handle anything' positive attitude prepares him for any tough task."

Acevedo gives time to become a member of the base honor guard. He can officially teach other Airmen the ropes for drill and ceremonies.

"I joined when I first arrived here and it has been awesome," he said. "I earned my black rope and eventually earned my honor guard brassard."

While his deployment has been notable so far, Acevedo says he enjoys his first deployment so far but he misses his family, friends and co-workers back home.

"Although I miss home, I am having a blast over here," Acevedo said. "The best part of this deployment so far has been the experience as a whole. I have learned a different side of the Air Force and I have learned to overcome even the most stressful days."