435th SFS remember fallen Airmen

by Senior Airman Katherine Holt
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Most of them had never met him. They never worked with him or knew details about his life. All they knew was his name and that he sacrificed his life for his country.

His name was Airman 1st Class LeeBernard Chavis. Chavis, 21, a member of the 824th Security Forces Group from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., was killed in action while deployed to Detachment 7, 732nd Expeditionary Unit, Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq, in 2006.

Here, Airmen from the 435th Security Forces Squadron volunteered to pay tribute to Chavis and other fallen comrades in the form of the annual LeeBernard Chavis Memorial Workout Oct. 14 at Sembach Kaserne.

Consisting of 150 burpees, a one mile run and 150 squat thrusts, the physical training session was organized by Maj. Jason Medsger, 435th Security Forces Squadron commander. Medsger belonged to a sister squadron of Chavis’ under the 824th SFG, but is not the only member of his old squadron who led the workout that day.

“Everyone who was stationed with Chavis decided to create a workout in his honor,” Medsger said. “We are now spread all over the world and continue this workout annually to commemorate Chavis and all fallen security forces members.”

Though it isn’t an official Air Force security forces PT session, Medsger said it has become an “unwritten honored tradition” throughout the Air Force. Though the workout was tough, Airmen fought through the urge to quit.

“Me and a fellow defender did the sets, went straight and pushed each other through it,” said Airman Jonathan Rosa-Cruz, 52nd Security Forces Squadron at Spangdahlem. “It wasn’t hard for us. It was hard for the family members who received that call.”

Rosa-Cruz said this workout is not just about the people who knew Chavis, it is about the connection among security forces members.

For some Airmen, the workout was for everyone they have known who died in the line of duty.

“We need to remember our fallen comrades because what we are doing is important,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Taylor, 569th U.S. Forces Police Squadron. “I believe these men and women do not get enough recognition for what they do day in and day out.”

Taylor added that no matter what, the participants of the workout
will always remember the men and women of security forces that were

Taylor was deployed with 1st Lt. Joseph Helton, the first security forces officer killed in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and said that Helton and Chavis were the type of Airmen who made the commitment to do what is right.

Sweat, tears and pride were shed in honor of security forces heroes: Airman 1st Class Elizabeth Jacobson, Staff Sgt. Brian S. McElroy, Tech. Sgt. Jason L. Norton, Chavis, Staff Sgt. John T. Self, Airman 1st Class Jason D. Nathan, Staff Sgt. Travis L. Griffin, 1st Lt. Joseph D. Helton and Senior Airman Nicholas J. Alden.

“When you sacrifice the ultimate being of your own life, you become a hero,” Medsger said.