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Marine patrol Airmen save lives during Gasparilla

Four Marine Patrol Airmen assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron patrol the 7.2 mile coastline of MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., May 4, 2018.

Four Marine Patrol Airmen assigned to the 6th Security Forces Squadron patrol the 7.2 mile coastline of MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., May 4, 2018. On April 7, 2018, these Airmen assisted five local and federal Tampa Bay agencies in rescuing five people after their boat capsized near Davis Island. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Adam R. Shanks)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

“We just did what were trained for,” one of the marine patrolmen said as the others nodded in agreement.

The morning of January 26, 2019, began like any other Saturday for Staff Sgt. Alex Badillo, Senior Airman Bryan Scott and Airman 1st Class Logan Roberts – they found themselves working on a weekend, a sight not uncommon to security forces squadrons across the Air Force.

Except, there was one difference: Gasparilla. 

A parade that brings in over 400,000 people to the city of Tampa means a higher security risk to the base.

“We have boats on the water at all times, but that day we increased our patrol,” said Badillo, a 6th Security Forces Squadron marine patrolman. “There is always the increased possibility of threats on days like these.”

While patrolling, they heard a concerning call over their radio.

“At around 1930 we got a call from the base defense operations center notifying us they were made aware by the Coast Guard that there was a boat taking on water close to the Bayshore Gate,” Airman 1st Class Logan Roberts, a 6th SFS marine patrolman. “With it being in our area of responsibility, we checked it out.”

Rushing to the scene, the three Airmen quickly made contact with the sinking boat and its seven passengers.

“As we got closer, they started yelling and screaming,” Badillo said. “It was a stressful situation because we had to talk to our people while communicating with the Coast Guard and the Hillsborough County Sheriff Department who were there as well.”

Once the boat was identified, the three marine patrol Airmen quickly acted to save them from their sinking boat.

“We got the individuals onto our boat so their boat would level out and not sink as quickly,” Roberts said. “Airman Scott and I helped get the people onboard, while Sgt. Badillo drove the boat.”

After safely returning the individuals and their boat to shore, they were escorted off base along with their boat.

The MacDill Marine Patrol is made up of around 30 security forces Airmen who provide waterborne deterrence, detection and response to any threat against MacDill AFB along its 7.2-miles of coastline.

“We train year-round for situations like this one,” Badillo said. “There will always be a boat on the water protecting MacDill and its people.”