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Not all heroes wear capes

Staff Sgt. Samuel Harris briefs the Midnight Titans volunteers before their patrol.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Samuel Harris, 39th Security Forces Squadron member and Midnight Titans volunteer, briefs Midnight Titan volunteers before their patrol at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Dec. 8, 2018. Midnight Titans is a volunteer base program that aims to ensure the safety of Airmen during the weekend. (U.S Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Octavius Thompson)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (AFNS) -- As U.S. Air Force Airmen, it is our job to meet the Air Force’s priorities of restoring readiness, strengthening alliances, driving innovation and developing exceptional leaders.

With innovation and readiness at the forefront of our force, one Airman found a way to use those ideas to aid Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, by developing a solution to improve tomorrow’s readiness.

As a way to support the safety and readiness of Airmen across the installation, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Gary Bass, 39th Security Forces Squadron police services nonommisioned officer in charge, developed Midnight Titans. This volunteer-based program aims to provide community assistance to Airmen after hours, helping to ensure they are safe during the weekend.

“The motto is Airmen helping Airmen with the mission to "help" not "hunt". This is not a law enforcement program and we are solely interested in safety and community assistance when our Airmen need it most,” said Bass. “Since starting the program, the Midnight Titans have transported approximately 335 personnel and 25 vehicles home.”

According to Bass, the program reinforces the Wingman concept by providing transportation to members’ homes when they need it, whether it is because they are making the right decision to prevent a DUI or just want someone to talk to along the way.

Before each shift, volunteers receive a brief on how to identify if a person has had too much to drink, as well as if the situation they encounter might be a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response incident. The members are also provided with different methods on how to interact with Airmen in a peaceful manner that will not cause conflict.

Following the briefing, the volunteers that spilt into two-person teams, often consisting of an NCO and an Airman, are assigned to an area that they will patrol throughout the night. The foot-patrol teams monitor high traffic areas, while driving teams take members and their vehicle home safely.

“Our organization has also included multiple agencies, such as Security Forces and the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office to inform volunteers how to de-escalate certain situations,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bryce Werner, 39th SFS member and Midnight Titan volunteer.

As Wingmen, it is our priority to look out for one another. Especially during a situation that could potentially result in an unwanted sexual encounter.

“If volunteers suspect unwanted sexual behavior is happening, we instruct them to let the Airmen know someone is available if they need it,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Pearison, 39th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment craftsman and volunteer victim advocate. “This allows the Airman to maintain their privacy, should they choose to report.”

Thanks to the innovation of one Airman and the dedication from numerous volunteers, the Midnight Titans program is able and ready to provide the Airmen of Incirlik with a safe alternative option to keep our Air Force family safe.

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