Letter to the editor
March 7, 2016
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My heartfelt sentiments and condolences to the people of Hesston.
I have had many residences, coming from a military family. Wichita, Kansas is one and, actually, Wichita was my first. Specifically, McConnell Air Force Base was my first residence until I left Kansas when I was about three years old.
The next years of my life were in Izmir, Turkey in 1965 and in Adana, Turkey in 1973.
I did not return to Kansas or Wichita until 1980.
During that time, I worked part-time as a campus patrol officer on the campus of Wichita State University.
Back then I was not trained to use non-lethal force or even deadly force. We did not carry pepper sprayers, PR-24’s or other less than deadly force arsenal. We did not carry firearms and I did not need to have qualification scores on the gun range.
Of course we did have law enforcement of the campus and they were trained in the deployment and use of less then deadly, and deadly force.
I studied at Wichita State for two years and then left to join the Air Force. Ironically though, at Wichita State I was studying to be an on-air broadcaster.
In 1984 I became an Air Force cop instead. Just like my civil certified counterparts in law enforcement, I attended a formal law enforcement academy in San Antonio, Texas on Lackland Air Force base.
I did exceptionally well in the classroom and in practical performance in the field.
In fact one of my instructors, Chief Mark Penland, gave me form of excellence for my bearing and appearance also Chief Penland was a former US army ranger retrained Air Force.
After law enforcement school, I was selected to become a M-60 Machine gun specialist while I was at combat school.
Eventually I got orders to Germany. My job was to safeguard nuclear weapons with my life. I did that for three years.
I had many awards and decorations after my short career in Germany. With them, I went back to the states and joined a special operations Unit.
The 919th SOG (Special Operations Group today it is the 16th Special Operations Wing in Hurlburt Field Florida.
I did a year in Special OPS then I joined up with the Air Force reserve Air Force police on Charleston Air Base the 315th SFS (Security police).
In 2001 I volunteered for deployment to Kuwait after I came back President George H. Bush Jr. called me back into the Air Force for full active duty for the September attacks.
Today I am medically retired from the Air Force police and I am the point of contact in the state of South Carolina for The NYC international Alliance of Guardian Angels (Curtis Sliwa founder/Pres.).
All the above represents me. So it is not easy when you come from a culture where it is normal to have a firearm and most of the time it is used correctly, legally, safely and only as the last resort to protect your life or the life of others in self-defense.
That time started for me in 1984.
Then I saw the beating of a black motorist, the late Mr. Rodney King, by elements of a rogue unit of cops of the LAPD known as RAMPART.
That was to me the beginning of the end for good law enforcement like the cop “Frank Serpico” from New York City.
Fast forward to the sad tragedy in Hesston, Kansas.
We share in your grief: the same happened in Charleston where a prominent State Senator, Mr. Clementa Pinckney, and nine church members were gunned down.
Then we saw at Newtown the massacre of men, women and children killed at their school.
And the list goes on and on.
Our nation in the world has become a world of gun hysteria and gun madness. I have on numerous times been contacted by both the NRA and the pro-gun lobby to join their ranks and I refuse.
I am not against guns; you have seen my track record.
I am against gun recklessness and gun owners that are not responsible.
I can write a book of the civilians and unfortunately of those in law enforcement.
We have and are continuing to become a nation of “gun lovers” in the worst way. Many have guns and don’t know how to use them or lack the training to employ and deploy them with proficiency.
We are in a society most of all that you actually feel less safe that your fellow citizen is carrying a gun, and you don’t know if you have to defend yourself from being shot by them or having to toe the line for fear of being shot by law enforcement.
Once again our sympathies go to Hesston, to Kansas and to the Governor and all for your loss.
—Sheldon W. Rice,
Former WSU student,
campus patrol officer