Texas Airmen provide show of force
By Staff Sgt. Tim Beckham, U.S. Air Forces Central, Baghdad Media Outreach Team
/ Published March 31, 2009
SATHER AIR BASE, Iraq -- The use of show of force is intended to warn or intimidate an opponent and to demonstrate capability or will to act if provoked. For two female Airmen here the showing of force is more than just a term, it's a way of life.
For Senior Airman Elizabeth Gonzalez and Staff Sgt. Vida Reveles, 447th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron heavy weapon operators, manning the .50 caliber machine guns here is a job they take very seriously.
"We are here to secure the flight line area and deny unauthorized entry into Sather Air Base," said Sgt. Reveles, who is native of Las Cruces, N.M. and is deployed from the 204th Security Forces Squadron at Biggs Army Airfield, Fort Bliss, Texas Air National Guard. "It's a different beast working with the .50 cal, but a real privilege."
"Our primary duty is to provide direct fire to any unauthorized personnel or vehicles trying to gain access to the base but if we are firing this weapon it means something bad is happening," added Airman Gonzalez, who is a native of El Paso, Texas and is also deployed from the 204th SFS. "I have shot eight different weapons and this is the best, it is very powerful and accurate and I just love it."
The .50 cal guns, used in combat since World War II, have predominately been manned by men in the past, but partly in thanks to these two Airmen, seeing a female behind the trigger has become more and more normal.
"It can be very difficult and challenging at times, physically, but the guys expect us to be able to lift and mount the weapon ourselves so it's just something we have to be able to do," said Sgt. Reveles.
"It's challenging because people are always underestimating the female, we probably have to be twice as tough as the guys, but I have always liked guns more than doing my makeup," said Airman Gonzalez.
Whether they are patrolling the base perimeter in a Humvee, or manning a post overlooking the flight line, the show of force these Airmen provide is part of the reason people here can sleep well at night.