Holloman gate guards help make "Friendliest place on Earth"

Mr. Wesley Dickey, Holloman gate guard, inspects the undercarriage of a truck for entrance to Holloman. (U.S. Air Force phot by Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)

Mr. Wesley Dickey, Holloman gate guard, inspects the undercarriage of a truck for entrance to Holloman. (U.S. Air Force phot by Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)

Mr. Roby McCool, Holloman gate guard, inspects Mr. Douglas Magneson's truck for entrance to Holloman. (U.S. Air Force phot by Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)

Mr. Roby McCool, Holloman gate guard, inspects Mr. Douglas Magneson's truck for entrance to Holloman. (U.S. Air Force phot by Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)

Mr. Eddie Kajioka, gate guard for Holloman, checks identification during the morning commute onto Holloman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)

Mr. Eddie Kajioka, gate guard for Holloman, checks identification during the morning commute onto Holloman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jason Colbert)

HOLLOMAN AFB, N.M. -- Since January 2005, base guests and Team Holloman members have seen the friendly faces of civilian gate guards greet them as they enter the installation.

But they are not just gate guards, they are installation entry controllers, who permit access to the base and provide the first welcome of the day to members of the Holloman community.

"The primary duties for gate guards is checking the documentation of people coming on base," said Mr. Eddie Kajioka, a gate guard for Holloman. "We check for proper identification and passes. But we are also looking for contraband."

Mr. Kajioka looks at each of the three entry gates as unique, but with the same importance.

The West Gate deals with all of the commercial vehicles entering base, said Mr. Kajioka. Here, the guards use special tools to thoroughly look over the vehicle for explosives and other dangerous devices.

At the La Luz Gate, industrial vehicles such as cement trucks provide most of the traffic that needs to be thoroughly checked, he said.

The Main Gate deals primarily with the inspection of personal vehicles, he said. The guards have about two to three seconds to check IDs and look in the front and back of the vehicle for contraband such as weapons and alcohol. When random inspections are in play, a guard will check for the current vehicle sticker, ID, driver's license, insurance, registration and do a physical inspection of the vehicle to include the trunk and under the hood.

The Main Gate is also the gate where the guards get the most interaction with people coming onto base.

"We set the stage for the day," said Mr. Kajioka, who generally works from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. "People are just getting up to go to work. I think of each car as individual and show interest in each individual."

Mr. Kajioka's friendly attitude when greeting people reflects on Holloman and goes hand-in-hand with the wing commander's "Friendliest Place on Earth" campaign.

During his recent officer calls, Brig. Gen. David Goldfein, 49th Fighter Wing commander, said having gate guards welcome all who enter the base in a warm manner was one of his priorities. So far, he was pleased with how this was happening. .

So, what does it take to be one of these friendly faces?

The Computer Science Corp., IEC's company, prefers people who have a military or law enforcement background, said Mr. Kajioka.

"Twenty eight of the 39 guards are prior military," said Capt. Daniel Soltero, the IEC officer. "Everyone, military or not, seems to acclimate well."

Mr. Kajioka said guards also have to be responsible, physically fit, have a clean felony record and be at least 21 years of age.

Once someone gets the job, training is needed.

"There are 40 hours of classroom time, provided by the Air Force," said Mr. Kajioka. "This is where we train for use of force, self defense, hand cuffing and baton. We also qualify with an M9 by a written and oral exam."

"The guards are contracted through CSC," said Chief Dwayne Nash, IEC supervisor. The CSC has contracts at 10 bases throughout the southern region of the United States, making it easier for a guard to transfer if needed.

The guards of Holloman have the duty of protecting the base and they do it with a smile on their face, letting everyone who enters know Holloman is the "Friendliest Place on Earth."