National Guard begins patrols at Juneau airport

Posted: Sunday, October 14, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Nine members of the Army National Guard began regular patrols at Juneau Airport to provide added security there.

Armed with handguns and wearing military fatigues, the troops said part of their job is to simply be seen by passengers whose confidence may have been shaken by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

''We are here to add confidence to the general public and have a presence and secure the checkpoint,'' said Sgt. Juan Dominguez, 37.

About 230 National Guard troops are assisting in providing security at 19 airports around the state, the guard said. The state had estimated that 21 airports would be included in the security detail. But those numbers were later revised downward.

''Originally, there were 25 airports on the Federal Aviation Administration's list, said Maj. Mike Haller, National Guard spokesman. Haller said some of those airports were seasonal and others less likely to face a threat.

The final 19 airports choses to be included in the security detail were made by the FAA, Haller said.

Guard troops underwent specialized training by the FAA and the Alaska State Troopers before taking up post. Haller said wherever possible, troops were stationed in their hometowns.

National Guard troops will supplement existing security at airports in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Valdez and other smaller fields around the state for up to six months.

Guardsmen in Juneau took up post on Thursday. They said they were eager to trade their civilian jobs for the military detail.

''I am proud to help my country out,'' said Matt DuBois, 19. Dubois is an Alaska Airlines employee in civilian life so his work clothes changed, but his surroundings are familiar.

''I just started a job as receptionist at Valley Medical Care on (Oct. 1) and only worked three days before I was called up,'' said Catherine Cox, 26. ''But they are very proud of me.''

Cox, the mother of two daughters, 10 and 3, who just returned to Juneau from training, said ''I want to be able to tell my daughters it's safe to fly.''

The National Guard is also providing security at the following airports:

Bethel, Cordova, Dillingham, Dutch Harbor, Ketchikan, King Salmon, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Nome, Petersburg, Deadhorse, Sitka, Wrangell and Yakutat.

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