by CMsgt Stolpa, USAF (Ret)
the most recent issues of our AFSPA journal, members have come forward and provided me with information for future articles. I am grateful to the membership for sustaining this column and encourage everyone
to get in on the action.
You don’t have to be a formal collector to qualify. All of us have some Air Police, Security Police, Security Force memorabilia stashed away to preserve the
memories of our service and this column gives you an opportunity to share it with those you have something in common with.
It is quite painless and I promise to do most of the work.
This article features the collection of TSgt Thomas
Mackey. He retired after having spent 20 years in our law enforcement
career field. He entered the Security Police Academy in February 1972. After graduating
from the Academy he was assigned to the 1605th Security Police Squadron in Lajes Field , Azores.
Following his initial assignment he rotated to Hill
AFB, Utah and served with the 2849th Security Police Squadron. In February 1976 he was reassigned to Fairchild AFB, WA with the 92nd Security
Police Squadron and in March 1978 was assigned to the 43rd Security Police Squadron at Andersen AFB, Guam.
later served at Little Rock AFB, AR with the 314th Security Police
Squadron, a stint as the Law Enforcement Superintendent with the 5072nd Air Base Squadron, Galena Airport, AK, and a second tour with the 92nd
Security Police Squadron at
Fairchild AFB, WA where he retired in 1991.
Sergeant Mackey wrote to me “My passion or I could really say my obsession in
collecting started when I entered the Air Force but I didn’t realize it at the time.
I think every military person is a collector and just doesn’t know it.
I guess in a way I am a pack rat as I don’t throw things away. So I have accumulated some stuff over the years
and have acquired a few more things in the past 2 years”.
“It all started in Lajes Field
Azores. My Security Police badge was awesome but when I saw the Air Police badges,
the ones with the blue enamel centers, on the back office doors I really wanted one.
I have coveted one of these badges for over thirty years. I would occasionally
search on ebay but could never find one. I finally found one on ebay that the
numbers had been ground off. I purchased the badge, took it to a jeweler and
had it silver plated and the original numbers restored.”
“That was the beginning of my collection.
Now I collect anything that has to do with Air Police, Security Police and Security Forces.” I especially would like to acquire some Air Police helmets. I
have one that I believe is of Korean or Vietnam War vintage but am not sure. I
have a reproduction Security Police helmet a friend painted for me. My collection
includes security police belt buckles, AP/SP/MP Police Brassards and an assortment of uniforms from our career field.”
“I managed to collect all of the patches from
the bases I was stationed at and the Major Air Commands I served in but had to stop at that point. There just are too many
patches to collect and I wanted to focus on the hard to find stuff” (Brother
Don Graham to this to the ultimate level.)
One of the prize possessions of Tom is a 1041st
T blue beret that he acquired from Ted Wright. Tom says this beret will more than likely will be donated to the Fairchild Heritage museum sometime when
they get it built. The 1041st T was based at Fairchild for a short
while and he is attempting to put together a display on his web page. That beret
is a choice piece of our history and an integral part of our heritage.
Tom encouraged me to explore his web page and extract pictures and data for this article
and I encourage you to do the same. It is an impressive site and you can access
it by plugging in the following URL into a search engine:
It has become evident to me that most retirees have an “I Love Me Wall”
to display their proud service and Tom is no exception to the rule. He really
has a nice display of the shields and functional badges of our career field. The
badges are displayed in custom oak frames and really are appealing to the eye. This
gives me some ideas here. Along with this badges are the documents for his commendation
medals. This makes an elegant display that is professionally done.
Looking at some of his uniform displays really
takes me back. I really loved the long sleeved dark blue shirt with brass on
them and can remember wearing them quite well. The kakai 505 and 1505 uniforms
are also prevalent along with the pith
helmet that I never wore after basic training. I guess some cops wore them in
the tropics but I didn’t. He also has a neat Korean War vintage pile cap
with AP on the bill. I wore an army pile cap at RAF Chelveston but it was never
How well I recall the sage green fatigues and how embarrassed we were to wear them. They were tailored for the AF family because two or more people could get in them
at the same time. The baseball cap completed the ridiculous ensemble. Add that to the 505 Bush Jacket and Bermuda shorts and we had uniforms that made us laughing stocks. I
also remember the old 505 summer uniforms. When we were in Tech School and getting ready to go home we
went out and bought a set of “Dacrons” because we thought the 505 uniforms were so shoddy. Must not have been any wear tests or uniform boards at that time to listen to and approve recommended uniform
changes. Does anyone know if they still issue the service hat? Very rarely do I see any pictures of airman wearing the old wheel hat.
When I was TDY to Tempelhof,
Berlin when “The Wall” was being built, I went to an Army clothing
sales store and purchased army fatigues with the cargo pockets, an army field jacket, pile cap, and Ridgeway hat. The army uniform boasted my self-esteem and restored my pride. Seems
that most cops at RAF Chelveston were wearing army uniforms and nobody had a problem with that. Why is it that the Air Force can’t settle on a decent uniform and stick with it? Once again someone thought the BDU was not good enough so they are working on a camouflage fatigue uniform that will blend with the sky.
Sergeant Mackey has a nice collection of old AP/SP leather and web gear. Gosh we went from the .45 Colt semi-auto pistol to the .38 Smith & Wesson revolver to the 9mm Beretta. Couldn’t beat that .45 for knockdown power but was tough to master for accuracy. The blue web belt always leant a nice touch and check out those boots with the white
spider laces. Sure looked sharp decked out in those boots and our blues.
Self proclaimed pack rat Mackey has even saved the manuals he was issued for training
while at the Academy and his Career Development Course upgrade training manuals. He
has kept recall rosters and letters sent to his parents when he arrived for duty at a new station. I dare say there are not many of us that saved those things. However,
looking at ebay I see some of those OJT manuals going for pretty good prices.
Exploring TSgt Mackey’s web site I came across a picture of two jeeps. One a Security Police jeep and the other a blue jeep marked Air Police. What beauties these jeeps are. I never saw one the blue AP
jeeps in operation, only saw pictures. I wonder how many members ever drove something
like this? I have been thinking about acquiring an army jeep but I think this
photo might just have raised my sights. I asked Tom if he had any information
on these jeeps and he could only point me in the direction of a web site that has them displayed.
I sure admire the collection that Tom is amassing. I wish I had room to expand my collection but I think I would have to cull out some of the army stuff I
acquired first. That just might be a
goal of mine when I finally retire in the not too far distant future.
Tom I thank you for allowing me to write this article and for sharing such memories
with the membership. You have captured a significant portion of our history and you can take great pride in that. I will be checking in on your web site from time to time to keep abreast of your collecting efforts and
encourage the membership to also do so.