First in a series of stories on the top law enforcement officers in the region.
TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — Whether it’s guarding the commander of United States Joint Forces Command during high-level missions to foreign countries or guarding the Main Gate at Travis, it is all part of the duty of security forces to ensure the mission can be carried out, according to Master Sgt. David Hartman of the 60th Security Forces Squadron.
Hartman was one of 15 Solano County law enforcement officers honored by the county’s Rotary clubs in October for their work protecting the public. Rotary clubs have sponsored the awards for 22 years and will hold a similar event in March to honor special firefighters.
“It is an honor to be recognized,” Hartman said, “to have my name on that plaque with the others.”
Born in San Antonio, Hartman came from a military family with a father who served as a civil engineer and a non-commissioned officer in the Air Force.
When Hartman joined the military in 1998, he thought about working in a specialty similar to that of his father, but chose to go into security forces. He said he hasn’t doubted his choice in the 15 years since then.
After finishing basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, and training for security forces, Hartman was sent to Travis. He served there from 1999 to 2007, learning the ropes of providing security to a base on Travis’ main gate and on the flight line.
Hartman was at Travis when the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon occurred. That significantly ramped-up protection measures for the base and emphasized the importance of security forces to ensure Travis and its people can continue to carry out whatever missions they are tasked with.
“We have become more security-conscious, better defenders,” Hartman said the security forces’ evolution since then.
His only significant break from Travis was when he was sent to Norfolk, Va., for four years. While there, he became part of the security detail for Marine Gen. James Mattis shortly after Mattis assumed command of U.S. Joint Forces Command.
Most of his time protecting Mattis was spent in civilian clothes, working in a detail that included security forces members from every branch of the service with backgrounds that ranged from special forces to former New York police officers who accompanied the general on approximately 100 missions around the world.
“It was a lot of travelling and sometimes into hostile environments,” Hartman said.
The work helped Hartman improve his people skills, which were essential dealing with not only high-ranking American military and political officials, but also those from a host of foreign countries “where you had to learn all of the customs and courtesies before you got there.”
Hartman has also been deployed to various locations in southwest Asia and central Asia three times, with a possible fourth deployment in the future.
“I am hoping to deploy again. I like to be there next to my fellow airmen,” Hartman said.
He said the job he does while deployed is pretty much the same as at Travis, with the exception of the increased threat from insurgents and terrorists, ”that its hotter and you wear a lot more body armor.” Otherwise, the task is still “making sure that the troops are safe.”
Back at Travis, Hartman’s day habitually starts early, getting his two boys ready for school and then hitting the gym before reporting for duty as a flight sergeant, taking care of any and all security tasks set before him and his team of 30 other security forces service members.
Hartman stressed he could not do what he does without the support of his wife Erica, who is a former security forces member.
As for the future, Hartman said he has no intention of leaving his work as a security forces service member anytime soon “because I love this unit and I enjoy my work.”
Special Agent Samuel Brown of the Office of Special Investigations at Travis was the other Air Force law enforcement officer honored by the Rotary this year, but declined to be interviewed for security reasons.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.