Leading the wing's defenders

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jeremy Roman, 301st Fighter Wing

The 301st Fighter Wing’s mission—to train and deploy combat ready Airmen---does not happen without a variety of dedicated people who serve their country in different ways. Air Force Reserve family members share their Airman with the wing, civilian employers provide work schedule flexibility and civilian coworkers synchronize job responsibilities each allowing the Reserve Citizen Airmen to serve. The member must balance life while also developing and maintaining the resilience and readiness needed to complete the mission when called. The Air Force Reserve’s greatest assets don’t do it alone.

As Law Enforcement Week recently concluded, we wanted to highlight another one of the wing’s warriors who not only serves within that community but also understand the balance needed in the Reserve triad: 301 FW Security Forces Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Anthony Carter, who is also the assistant chief deputy at the Collin County Sheriff’s Office. He discusses his journey and tells us about his Airmen, who are also known as Defenders, as we get to know him better.


Q: Where are you originally from? When and why did you go into law enforcement?

A: Carter: “I’m an “Air Force brat” and my father served Active Duty as Security Police (SP). Since he was from Texas and my mother is Greek, I tell everyone I’m from Texas and Greece. I started in 1986, at 17 years old, when I enlisted in the AF as a Security Policemen. I followed in my father’s footsteps Master Sgt. (ret) Al Carter.”


Q: How did you get to the role you have now?

A: Carter: “I was prior enlisted SP, then commissioned in the Army Reserve for 14 months, and then transferred into the Air Force Office of Special Investigation where I served as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee for 14 years before rejoining Security Forces in October 2018. I retired as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge (GS-15) from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) after 20 years of service. Prior to DEA, I was a Dallas Police Officer for nearly 5 years. My Sheriff, James Skinner and a fellow coworker, Capt. Nic Bristow, are also former AF Security Policemen interestingly enough. It’s awesome working for and with them, especially when we start speaking of our SP experiences.”


Q: You are on a special task force. How did that come about and how are things going there?

A: Carter: “In August 2019, I was selected to be an inaugural member of Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Domestic Terrorism Task Force (DTTF). Since the inception, we have had two in-person meetings. Sitting at the table with Gov. Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Speaker of the House Dennis Bonnen, Texas Dept. of Public Safety Director Col. Steve McCraw, Texas Division of Emergency Management Chief W. Nim Kidd, Texas Military Department Major General Tracy Norris, heads of the Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Attorney, Dept. of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, El Paso Police Chief and the Hidalgo County Sheriff [just] to name a few… has been a humbling experience. As a fusion (intelligence) center director, I was selected to represent the eight fusion centers located within Texas. The purpose of the DTTF was to define domestic terrorism (within Texas) and to “combat these hateful acts and extremism in Texas.”  The “group of experts will analyze and provide advice on strategies to maximize law enforcement’s ability to protect against acts of domestic terrorism.”  Being able to express ideas directly to the Governor and then have him roundtable with the other members has been awesome, especially since one of my statements led to the enactment of Executive Order 7. Due to COVID-19, our third meeting has been postponed until further notice.”


Q: What are some of the things going on in at Collin County Sheriff’s Office?

A: Carter: “In my civilian job, although cliché, our mission is to serve and protect the constituents of Collin County as well as protect our employees and inmates from contracting COVID-19.”


Q: What do you enjoy most about what you do on the civilian side?

A: Carter: “Law enforcement is a calling. I just really enjoy serving others…and wearing a gun to work every day is pretty cool, too!”


Q: Why/how did you get involved with the military?

A: Carter: “Born into the Air Force and with the exception of 10-year break (9 year break in service, and the 14 months in Army), 41 years of my life has been associated with or serving in the Air Force. Both of my brothers, Nick and Angelo have also served in the Air Force. Angelo eventually changed services and is a LTC in the Army Reserve.”


Q: How did you commission?

A: Carter: “I receive a direct commission in the Army Reserve in 2003. At the time, I was a GS-13, Special Agent with DEA and the Army Reserve were needing more officers. Took me longer than most to receive a commission as I didn’t do it the conventional way but nevertheless was blessed and fortunate to have been commissioned.”


Q: What path did you take to get involved with the 301 FW SFS?

A: Carter: “I was a Buck Sergeant and then promoted to Staff Sgt. in the 301 FW SFS from 1992 to 1994 after separating from AD. Retired Chief Master Sgt. Gordon Blair and I were Staff Sgts. back then. After being an officer in the AFOSI, Chief Blair asked if I were interested in coming back to SFS as a commander as the then-commander, Maj. Rafael Perea, was looking to transfer to 10th AF, U.S. Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, since he had been the commander for nearly six years. AFOSI was willing to let me transfer since we were already overpopulated with officers, so I was able to return “home” to the 301 FW.”


Q: The wing’s mission is to train and deploy combat-ready Airmen. How does SFS fit into that mission?

A: Carter: “Our job is simply to defend, meaning to protect, ward off, or avert something that is likely a threat. Our job is to move towards, engage, and neutralize or mitigate a threat, while protecting our vital assets and allowing others to carry on their respective missions.”


Q: Does your SFS unit have a chant/motto and what type of Airmen does it take to be an ‘SFS Defender’?

A: Carter: “’Defenders Lead the Way,’ but our motto is ‘Watching, Waiting, Ready!’ To be an SFS Defender takes a strong type-A personality; one that is self-motivated and a self-starter. A good Defender knows and believes that failure is simply not an option!”


Q: What is something you wish people knew about SFS?

A: Carter: “Often, people think of Defenders as personnel who only check ID cards at the base gate entrances. They don’t understand the complexities of air base ground defense. We’re the infantry of the Air Force. We train and are very efficient at ground combat skills. It’s not easy moving with all the gear we carry which include our heavy, medium, and light duty weapon systems. Former 301 FW Commander Col. Mitch Hanson and former 301 FW Mission Support Group Commander Col. Trina Hood witnessed first-hand our difficult Combat Leader’s Course in March 2019 at Jacks Valley, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. They were both surprised and impressed watching our Defenders perform and execute their assigned combat missions.

Additionally, people may only think of the physical side of our jobs but that’s not all you need to be an effective Defender. What’s often overlooked is the mental aptitude needed. We have students, retail employees, corporate professionals, as well as law enforcement personnel and more in our SFS. The diversity of life experience truly brings a positive well roundedness to the unit. Our Airmen have the experience of dealing with people during their highs and lows often in stressful situations. The ability to communicate and counsel in those situations is more powerful than any outcome physicality would accomplish. As an example, the wing had a member and a supervisor go to a mental health facility which ended up being a negative experience. We decided to do an in-house mental health session and included Mary Arnold, our wing’s director of psychological health. She told me how blown away she was by how well our Defenders came together to not only understand the human element but also to help someone in need. So much so, she wants to include our Defenders in future sessions to help other Airmen. That is the definition of successfully maximizing the complexity of Reserve resources which are readily available in security forces. We give the Reserve the kind of experience that can only be gained by having already gone through it. The bond we share with other law enforcement we have networked with, being able to relate to people in order to bring about a positive outcome, as well as the ability, expertise and willingness to run towards the danger… that’s what we bring to the fight.”


Q: What are some of your proudest personnel/professional accomplishments?

A: Carter: “I take great pride in having been a prior enlisted Airman. I really believe it’s been the foundation of the officer/commander I am now. Achieving a rank or title is just that, a rank and title. It doesn’t define you or your character. Having started as an E-1 Airman Basic was about the best thing that could’ve happened to me! Another one of the memorable moments I was able to experience was meeting and taking a picture with former AF Security Policeman Chuck Norris at a Dallas Cowboys home game when I was selected to deliver the coin to the referees and greet the captains for the opening coin flip… that was very cool, too!”


Q: What’s something people may not know about you?

A: Carter: “I love a wide variety of 80’s music: from rap, R&B, to country music and 80s rock.”


Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: Carter: “I’m still happily married after 24 years and have three kids. One is attending the Univ. of Oklahoma, one is about to start their education at the Univ. of North Texas this fall, and the youngest is a high school sophomore. Last year, I also had a friendly wager last year with 301 FW Vice Commander Col. Randall Cason in which my Univ. of Oklahoma Sooners beat his Baylor Bears in NCAA football. The loser had to wear a Velcro patch of the winner’s school. I’m looking forward to Col. Cason sporting my OU/U.S. flag patch again after his Baylor Bears go down in defeat!”

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