PENSACOLA, FL- On September 11th, 2001, our world changed. I was in the Army and stationed at Fort Polk, Louisiana. Our base was hardly a high-value target, but like the rest of the military, we were placed on the highest alert. The base went on lockdown.
Once it was reopened, there were only 3 gates you could use to gain access to base. Traffic remained thick as ID’s were checked. Every vehicle was subject to random search. Dogs were there 24-7. They were scanning the undercarriages with mirrors.
Everyone was on the duty roster to pull security detail shifts. As one of the Sergeants of the Guard for our unit, I worked 24 hours on, 24 off, and then a regular day. We repeated this cycle for close to 3 months.
Our unit’s area of responsibility was the recreation center and child-care facility. On occasion we would rotate to the front gate.
We were there, rain or shine in “full-battle rattle,” which included our load-bearing equipment (LBE), ballistic helmets, and rifles. It was our job to stop protect the rec center from anyone who would seek to do harm to the children playing there or the people who worked there.
All those years of training were finally being put to use. We stood at the ready, weapon slung with a 30-round magazine in the magazine well and three more in each ammo pouch on our LBE. For those of you doing the math…we were each carrying 7 magazines. That would total 210 rounds per soldier on duty at the time, which was typically four at our post.
But there was one problem with this force protection scenario we were a part of. Not a single one of us actually had any ammunition. Not even a single, put it in your breast pocket, “Barney Fife” type of bullet.
During our initial briefing, after being told that we would have no means of actual defense, it was asked, how will we respond to someone trying to run the gate or gain unauthorized access to a facility.
“Get on the radio and call the MPs.”
From the back of the room I heard:
“Or throw your magazines at them.”
That is what we would have to resort to.
If the Army (and presumably the other branches) was not going to arm us in the aftermath of the single darkest day in our nation’s history, why should normal days be in different?
Well, I can give you 147 reasons why they should arm the men and women of our armed forces on a daily basis. And if arming each of them is too big of a leap, at least allowing them the option of concealed carry on base should be on the table.
Here are the 147 reasons.
From 1993 through present, there have been 14 fire-arms related attacks on US military installations. In those attacks, 47 have been killed, 99 were wounded.
For the people doing the math, yes, that only adds up to 146.
Reason 147 is my son. I want the Army to provide him the same means of protecting and defending himself and others that they afford him when he is deployed to real-world scenarios.
Here are the other 146 reasons.
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Fort Knox, 1993: Fort Knox civilian employee Arthur Hill went on a rampage at the base’s Training Support Center. Hill killed three people and injured two others before turning on himself in the bathroom of a VA office. He passed three days later from his self-inflicted GSWs.
Fairchild AFB, 1994: Airman Dean Mellberg opened fire at the Fairchild Air Force Base Hospital outside Spokane, WA. He killed four people and hurt at least 21 others before a security officer struck him down. One of the victims of Mellberg’s rampage was an 8-year-old girl.
Naval Air Systems Command, 1995: Ernest J. Cooper Jr., shot and wounded two co-workers at Naval Air Systems Command in Arlington, VA. He then killed himself. One of the victims, Nils F. “Fred” Salvesen, was Cooper’s supervisor and the first to be shot, and the other was a high-ranking naval officer who happened to be sitting near Cooper.
Fort Bragg, 1995: Sgt. William J. Kreutzer Jr. went on a spree at Fort Bragg, He shot and killed one officer and harming 20 soldiers. Both Kreutzer and his victims were members of the 82nd Airborne Division. Kreutzer targeted them during their morning physical training exercises. Kreutzer was disarmed by Special Forces troops on the base and convicted. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Fort Hood, 2009: Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan went on a rampage at Fort Hood, killing 13 people and harmed 30 others, making it the most egregious army base shooting in American history.
Hasan was paralyzed from the waist down as a result of being struck down by the police. He was found guilty of 45 counts and was sentenced to death.
Little Rock Recruiting Center, 2009: Self-described Islamic radical Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, born Carlos Bledsoe, opened fire on a military recruiting center in Little Rock, while driving by in his car. He killed Private William Long and injured Private Quinton Ezeagwula. He was sentenced to life in prison.
Fort Bragg, 2012: Spc. Ricky Elder was facing larceny charges and a court-martial for stealing a tool kit off his base a Fort Bragg. Elder shot his battalion commander, Lt. Col. Roy L. Tisdale, then turned on himself.
Quantico, 2013: Marine tactics instructor Sgt. Eusebio Lopez killed Lance Cpl. Sara Castromata and Cpl. Jacob Wooley at Marine Corps Base Quantico’s Officer Candidates School. Lopez then turned the gun on himself.
Fort Knox, 2013: Fort Knox civilian employee Lloyd Gibert was struck down at the parking lot of the Human Resources Command building. A soldier stationed at the base was apprehended in the slaying.
Washington Navy Yard, 2013: 12 people perished after newly hired government contractor Aaron Alexis opened fire inside the Navy Yard complex in Washington, DC. Alexis was struck down by DC police officers. He did not survive.
Fort Hood, 2014: Iraq War veteran Specialist Ivan A. Lopez opened fire on the grounds of Fort Hood, killing three and wounding 16 others before taking his own life.
Chattanooga Recruiting Center, 2015: Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez perpetrated a drive-by on a military recruitment facility in a strip mall in Chattanooga, TN. After wounding one Marine, he led police on a chase to a nearby naval reserve center, where he rammed his car through the gate, fired indiscriminately into an office building, and was finally eliminated by police. Four Marines died in the incident.
Pearl Harbor Naval Base, 2019: A United States sailor fatally shot two shipyard workers and injured another at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard before killing himself.
Naval Air Station Pensacola, 2019: A member of the Saudi Air Force, in the US for training, slayed three people and injured several others at a naval base in Pensacola. Law enforcement identified the gunman as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. The gunman was struck down by sheriff’s deputies.
Of these 14 incidents, 6 of the suspects self-eliminated. In 7 of the assaults, local law enforcement was involved in either eliminating the threat or taking them into custody.
In only one of these scenarios was the assailant stopped by another military member.
Why would it take intervention from local law enforcement? The branches of the US military spend hundreds of thousands of dollars training and equipping soldiers, sailors airmen and Marines to fight and win wars, yet they are essentially helpless when they get back home.
Bad actors almost get a running start when it comes to these types of incidents. Why are our service members incapable of defending themselves should this occur again?
We should and must do better to protect our protectors. Forcing them to lock up their personally owned weapons in the unit arms room does them no good.
The 2nd Amendment affords us the ability to protect ourselves and our families. Why are the very people who defend and uphold the Constitution not provided that same measure of ability?
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