MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
When Airmen think of the wild blue yonder, they usually look to the skies, but for the 6th Security Forces Squadron marine patrolmen, they look to the seas.
Twenty years ago, shortly after the attacks on 9/11, MacDill Air Force Base’s marine patrol was established to provide waterborne protection, deterrence and response to any threats within the base’s surrounding waters.
“I can’t think of a better example when we talk about multi-capable Airmen,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Steve Koster, the 6 SFS marine patrol unit superintendent. “These Airmen are proficient at tasks you would only ever do in a different branch.”
The 6th SFS marine patrol unit is the only fully operational, Airmen manned, 24/7 unit in the Air Force, and is responsible for protecting one of the largest coastal restricted areas in the Department of Defense.
“We have to stay on our toes,” said Staff Sgt. Angelo Scaffido, 6 SFS marine patrol noncommissioned officer in charge. “Being out there in the water brings its own unique challenges.”
Scaffido added that the Airmen can face anything from inclement weather and rough waves to drug dealers and poachers entering restricted waters near the base.
In 2021, the marine patrol unit responded to 231 reported incidents, almost three times the amount of incidents reported in 2020.
“It’s been a pain-staking process,” said Koster. “We’ve had many encounters where we’ve been tested to our limits. Thankfully we’ve learned along the way and adapted to the challenges we’ve faced.”
Today, the 6th SFS marine patrolmen have become the standard across the U.S. Air Force, often training Airmen on temporary duty assignments to learn about the programs and procedures developed at MacDill.
“We’ve become the benchmark,” said Koster. “Airmen are coming here from all over the world in order to learn from our methods. That can only be a testament to the standards our unique Airmen have set and will continue to for years to come.”