Nine members of the Army National Guard began regular patrols of the Juneau Airport by meeting the 1 p.m. Alaska Airlines flight on Thursday.
They are the local representatives of a fist of security that has closed around airports nationwide since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
"Proud" was the word that most often leapt to the reservists' lips when asked how they felt about this active duty.
"I feel great. I feel proud," said Staff Sgt. Juan Dominguez. His assignment and that of eight others is to see and be seen.
"Profiling (potential terrorists) is not our job at all. We are here to add confidence to the general public and have a presence and secure the checkpoint," Dominguez said. Airport security duty is the second time that Dominguez, 37, has been called from reserve to active duty. He also served in the Persian Gulf War.
A four-and-a-half-year resident of Juneau, Dominguez is married and the father of three. His employer, Costco, and his family have "no problem" with his service, which could last from four to six months, he said. "All of them understand what we are going through. Costco told me that my job will be secure."
Dayton Long, 19, was a justice major at the University of Alaska Fairbanks when he got the call to report. "I feel great about it," Long said.
Matt DuBois, 19, worked on the ramp for Alaska Airlines, so although his work clothes have changed to camouflage and he's carrying a sidearm, his place of work is not much different. "I am proud to help my country out," DuBois said.
Catherine Cox, 26, just returned to Juneau from the National Guard's Advanced Individual Training course at Fort Gordon, Ga., which followed basic training in South Carolina.
"I just started a job as receptionist at Valley Medical Care on (Oct. 1) and only worked three days before I was called up. But they are very proud of me," said Cox, the mother of two daughters, 10 and 3. "I want to be able to tell my daughters it's safe to fly."
An employee of Aero Services, Thad Mills, 19, said the call to active duty was a surprise, "but I was excited to be called up." He said his fiancee, Nicole Monroe, is "very supportive," and "it's nice to be on active duty but still serving my home town."
Team leader Maj. Tim Koeneman will not be on scene all the time because he is responsible for coordinating the National Guard's presence at several airports including Juneau, Sitka, Petersburg, Wrangell and Kodiak, he said.
The troops report to Staff Sgt. Dominguez, who accompanied them to five days of training in Anchorage last week.
They received instruction from the Federal Aviation Administration, Alaska State Troopers and National Guard personnel.
The Guardsmen assigned to the Juneau Airport will be divided among shifts, but some details still need to be worked out, Dominguez said. And not all details of their assignment will be shared with the public.
The presence of Guardsmen is only one of many changes at the airport since last month's attacks, including tables set up near check-in windows for "baggage inspection."
Ann Chandonnet can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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