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Security Forces member ranks among the elite in federal law enforcement

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- When Master Sgt. Josh Devine, a squad leader for the 123d Airlift Wing, reported last summer to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga., he wore a suit. After all, it was a new job.

"Within the first five minutes, we were all doing pushups," said Sergeant Devine. "Stuff was flying around the room and we were being told we're all a bunch of maggots.

"Here I'm thinking to myself, 'Have you really done this to yourself again?"

The introduction was all too familiar to the sergeant. He'd accomplished basic military training, security forces training - one of the more physically intensive schools in the military - and basic training at the Department of Criminal Justice Training Branch in Richmond, Ky.

That day the sergeant began one of the most physically and mentally demanding training evolutions in law enforcement.

"At 34, I was getting a little long in the tooth to be climbing up ropes and jumping over walls. It seemed like we ran everywhere, we're talking nine and ten mile runs. Climbing ropes and jumping over walls felt a little different than it was when I was 18," Sergeant Devine said.

Five months later, after two intensive courses, the Sergeant emerged from his training as one of the elite; he was a Deputy U.S. Marshal. His graduation marked a milestone in 13 years of law enforcement that began when he enlisted in the Kentucky Air National Guard.
 
In 1999, he began his civilian law enforcement career as a member of the police department in his hometown of Harrodsburgh, Ky. In 2003, he was called to active duty and joined his fellow 123d Security Forces Squadron members for service during the invasion of Iraq.

The Kentucky Airmen were among the first in the fight, setting up airfield operations at Baghdad International Airport days into the war. Then-Staff Sgt. Devine was leading men in war and securing a vital resource for continued combat operations.

He returned home and joined the Commonwealth Attorney General's office, where he served as a Medicaid and Fraud Control Unit investigator while finishing his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Eastern Kentucky University and his Community College of the Air Force degree.

"He has a reputation for being dependable and reliable," said Senior Ma¬ter Sgt. Rhett Perdue, superintendent of operations for the squadron. "He gives it to you straight and he takes care of his troops. He's always looking out for their best interests and he's always going to do the right thing."

Sergeant Devine said he considers his fellow Kentucky Airmen friends and family. In his case, it couldn't ring more true. In 2005, while on a training evolution at the Gulfport Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport, Miss., he met his future wife Tracey. They were dating for just weeks when Hurricane Katrina struck her hometown of Gautier, Miss. Sergeant Devine didn't hesitate.

"She called and I told her I was on my way. I don't think she was all that impressed with the military when I met her, but I think (the hurricane response) made all the difference," Sergeant Devine said.

"The first thing he did was propose to me," Tracey recalls. He spent the rest of his stay assisting her community.

On the scene in civilian clothes, he set up a landing zone for UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters delivering relief to her neigh¬borhood. The experience made an impact in both of their lives. In 2006, they married. By 2007, she had enlisted in the unit. Now a senior airman, she serves as an emergency management specialist with the 123d Civil Engineer Squadron.

"I was tired of him having all the fun. My experience with Katrina helped me decide my field," she said.

Together, they commute for military duty from Virginia where Sergeant Devine is completing his first tour of duty with the agency. He said no matter where his federal job takes him, he's going to stay a Kentucky Airman for as long as he can.

"I love what I do. I spent the last week assigned to the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force serving warrants with multiple federal and state agencies," he said.

His second day in the office last summer, he was involved with the highly-publicized spy swap with Russia. From hunting fugitives to protecting federal judges and witnesses, he said his job is constantly changing. The experiences he gains make him a better Airmen and improve the readiness of his squadron, said Lt. Col. Robert Holdsworth, his commander.

"Sergeant Devine enhances the credibility of our unit and is a mentor for our younger Airmen to emulate," he said. "He shows what is possible and you're seeing others follow in his footsteps."

Currently, Staff Sgt. Mike Meier, a security forces specialist with the Contingency Readiness Group, is training to be a U.S. Marshal.

When Kentucky Airmen are called to support global or domestic emergencies, the civilian law enforcement experience of members makes them better prepared, Colonel Holdsworth said.

"We always say we're the best of the best. It's nice to have people like Josh out there proving it," he said.