JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
On Dec. 9 more than 450 police and emergency vehicles along with more than 1,200 police and emergency personnel staged on the McChord Field Flight line at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.
The vehicles staged at McChord for the funeral procession for Tacoma Police Department officer Reginald “Jake” Gutierrez, who was killed in the line of duty Nov. 30.
The McChord Field flightline was able to provide the ideal single parking location for that amount of vehicles as well as a direct path to the funeral location at the Tacoma Dome in Tacoma, Washington.
“All the construction around the Tacoma Dome made it impossible to have one parking location for all of the vehicles that came in to be a part of the procession.” said Charles Thornton, JBLM Directorate of Emergency Services joint operations officer for McChord Filed. “The direct route from the north side of base to the Tacoma Dome allowed for the least amount of disruption to the local community, especially on Interstate 5.”
The logistics of undertaking a task of this size with the short amount of time to plan can be a challenge for the base.
“Planning an operation like this is huge,” said Thornton. “We have to look at the logistics of how it is going to impact the community as well as the mission of JBLM.”
Thornton has handled this sort of event three times before and has the experience to handle the complexity of the situation.
“I have learned that you need to have a primary and two alternate’s plans,” said Thornton. “The amount of support from the local, state and federal agencies has been unbelievable. It’s amazing how everyone can pull together and work as a team. This isn’t about JBLM working with the community. The servicemembers assigned to JBLM leave all throughout the Pierce, King and Thurston counties and are part of the community. Those police officers put their lives on the line protecting our servicemembers and their families are protecting them just like we would on the installation.”
Despite the scrambling necessary to get everything prepared for the procession staging and the extra workload it created JBLM was happy to support.
“JBLM was honored to provide the staging area for Officer Gutierrez’s funeral procession on McChord Field,” said Col. Leo Kosinski, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. “We wanted to show our support and solidarity for the law enforcement communities’ loss.”