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FAST Airmen: keeping passengers, assets safe

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cierra Presentado
  • 455th AEW Public Affairs
When a C-130J Super Hercules goes out on a mission to deliver mission critical assets or passengers from one location to another, Airmen with the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron Fly Away Security Team ensure protection of the aircraft and crew from hostile fire or on-board security breaches.

The FAST Airmen are required to fly on specific missions to various locations throughout Afghanistan. Due to being in a combat environment, the Airmen are trained to protect the aircraft, the assets that are loaded on it and all NATO passengers aboard.

“We maintain constant watch over the aircraft the entire time it’s on the ground when at a location other than Bagram,” said Staff Sgt. Brandee Hahn, 455th ESFS FAST noncommissioned officer in charge. “Whether we’re on the ground for 20 minutes or three hours, we make sure the aircraft is protected and no one that shouldn’t be on it gets on.”

While providing security, the team maintains contact with the loadmasters at all times in the event that something does happen the loadmasters can contact the pilots, who take the necessary measures to get out of the situation.

“When we’re providing security, it’s important we keep contact with the loadmasters, they’re the communication between us and the pilots. If something happens, we have to make sure the pilots know we need to get off the ground and get out of there,” Hahn said. “As FAST members, we’re responsible for protecting that aircraft and keeping it safe. So, if there is hostile fire aimed at the plane we will fire back.”

The team covers various missions ranging from carrying hazardous materials and mission essential personnel to medical evacuations.

“We’ve been on multiple medical evacuation missions since being here in the AOR,” Hahn said. “Our job is so awesome because we get to experience everything, different missions and different locations…it’s always exciting.”

The FAST Airmen are always the first individuals off the aircraft and the last to get on.

“When the aircraft lands, we make sure the area is safe; make sure no one is out there that shouldn’t be,” said Airman 1st Class Wilmer Puello, 455th ESFS FAST member. “We know who should be out there, so if something looks strange we make sure no one gets off the plane until we know the area is secure.”

The team expressed how much they love the mission and look forward to each day they fly.

“This really is the coolest job. You never know what each day is going to bring, but we always stay ready and vigilant,” Puello said. “Our job is to protect the people and protect the aircraft and that’s exactly what we do.”