Andrews' Open House Features Tight Security
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 13, 2002 People attending the free Joint Service Open House May 17-18 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., will see tighter security necessitated by the war against terrorism.
An obvious change at this year's Andrews open house requires most patrons to park (free) off-base and then be bused (free) to the air show grounds, said Air Force Col. Michael M. Wyka, 2002 Joint Service Open House DoD chairman. The open house is part of May 18 Armed Forces Day celebrations held nationwide and overseas.
Wyka said security has been beefed up not only at Andrews' open house, but also at other public venues across the country since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He pointed out that the recently run Kentucky Derby, for instance, also implemented added security measures.
"I think the public is now seeing the use of magnetometers at ballparks, theme parks, airports," Wyka said, adding that due to anti-terrorist measures "the public doesn't have the free access as it once did."
War or no war, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has noted that it's important for the military to maintain links with the taxpayers who pay for the tanks, aircraft and other items on display at military open houses and similar venues.
Citing the expense and difficulty in providing adequate security for the estimated 500,000-600,000 people expected to attend, senior Air Force officials originally had recommended shelving this year's event at Andrews. DoD overruled them. The event has been held nearly every year since 1957.
This year's Andrews open house will consist of two days of activities instead of the traditional three. Increased security for this year's open house will cost at least $1 million, compared to $200,000 in past years, according to DoD documents.
"We've had to make some adjustments, but we feel we're providing a level of security so they can come here in a safe environment and enjoy the show," Wyka said.
The open house kicks off May 17 from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and is open only to DoD military and civilian identification card holders, their families and their escorted guests. The public open house is on May 18 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
DoD identification card holders may park in designated lots on Andrews for the open house. According to Wyka, the general public, which can't drive or walk onto the base, has two ways to access the open house:
o Drive to FedEx Field, Md., park for free, and take a free bus ride to get to the air show area on Andrews.
o Take Metro, get off at the Branch Avenue station and take free shuttle bus transportation to Andrews.
Everyone "will have to go through magnetometers" at security checkpoints "either at FedEx or Andrews at some point," Wyka said.
Visitors will be restricted on what they can bring onto Andrews, he said. Large coolers, including food or drink, cannot be brought onto the base, Wyka noted, adding that food and beverages can be purchased at concession stands. People with special dietary requirements, he said, can bring food that will be checked. If deemed OK, dietary food can be carried in small containers.
Also allowed are umbrellas, small camera bags and cameras, small purses, money pouches, fanny packs, strollers and lightweight folding-type chairs.
"Obviously, they'll be inspected before you can bring them in," Wyka said.
The Andrews open house will be "basically the same type of show people are used to seeing," Wyka said. The show includes the Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, the Army's Golden Knights parachute team and the Army's 82nd Airborne Division mass parachute jump. Military aircraft and equipment will be on public display, he added.
The security measures are "the best approach to take to allow taxpayers to see and touch military equipment and provide security for all," Wyka said.
The Andrews AFB Joint Service open house is held in conjunction with other Armed Forces Day celebrations nationwide and overseas. On Aug. 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day -- celebrated each year on the third Saturday of May -- to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force days.
Armed Forces Week begins on the second Saturday of May and ends on the third Sunday of May, the day after Armed Forces Day. For information about other Armed Forces Day events, visit www.defenselink.mil/afd.