OSI’s Year in Review: 2023

  • Published
  • By Thomas Brading
  • OSI Public Affairs

2023 was a landmark year for the Office of Special Investigations, from historic leadership changes to commemorating 75-years as an agency, all while continuing global and domestic efforts in maintaining security and stability. 

This year, OSI welcomed new leaders, including Brig. Gen. Amy Bumgarner, who took the agency’s helm in May as OSI’s first female commander, an occasion met with both humility and excitement for the 20th OSI commander. 

"The strength of OSI lies in its people,” Bumgarner said. “Their dedication, expertise, and teamwork are the bedrock of our success. I'm proud to lead such an exceptional group of professionals."

Complementing this leadership transition, in April, Special Agent Pearl S. Mundt made her own headlines as OSI's first female executive director. Mundt's elevation, alongside Bumgarner's, underscored OSI's move into the future. 

“It’s truly an honor to follow in the footsteps of those who held this position before,” Mundt said, following her appointment. 

75 Years OSI

Amidst these historic leadership changes, OSI celebrated its 75th anniversary. The agency embraced the theme 'Inspired by our past – OSI’s future starts today,' reflecting on its history while looking forward to future challenges and achievements.

One of the highlights of the year came in September during the OSI Hall of Fame induction, which resumed after a five-year break to induct seven distinguished members. 

The ceremony, attended by over 200 past and present OSI members, included six previously inducted hall of famers, which served as a tribute to the agency's legacy.

This year's inductees, previously nominated but delayed in joining the Hall of Fame due to COVID-19 disruptions, included Steven F. Minger and Martin L. Pitt from the Class of 2018; Joe R. Worley and Rene G. Pichard from the Class of 2020; and Gale D. Ahern, Kelly D. Harrison, Sr., and Richard D. Womble from the Class of 2022. 

The yearlong celebration included a diverse range of other events and initiatives. These activities went beyond OSI’s immediate community, with events like laying a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and a ceremonial first pitch at a minor league baseball game to underscore the agency’s deep ties to its history and people.

Focusing on the mission

As OSI celebrated its 75th anniversary, the focus remained not just on its past but also on its ongoing mission, reflective of OSI's enduring commitment to excellence and adaptability in addressing modern security challenges. 

Central to this year's activities was the emphasis on strengthening relationships, both domestically and on the international front. For example, in the Indo-Pacific region, OSI’s participation in the Air Mobility Command's Mobility Guardian 2023 exercise in July, which showcased its strategic capabilities and commitment to global security. 

“[Mobility Guardian 2023 is] a testament to OSI's commitment to a more secure and resilient world,” Col. Brian Alexander, OSI’s 3rd Field Investigations Region commander, in an interview earlier this year, who added the exercise underlined the importance of international collaboration and the future security landscape.

April saw OSI enhancing regional stability in Slovakia through an information exchange, a part of the Department of the Air Force’s Agile Combat Employment initiative. This event demonstrated OSI’s focus on building and reinforcing international partnerships, fostering mutual learning and shared practices.

OSI’s global engagement was further evident in August at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where OSI Special Agents participated in comprehensive post-blast training. This interagency collaboration, crucial for OSI’s strategy in addressing global security challenges, highlighted the importance of skill development and joint efforts.

These activities represent only a snapshot of OSI’s global missions, which emphasize the significance of international partnerships in maintaining security. 

The establishment of Office of Procurement Fraud Det. 8 at Yokota Air Base, Japan, and the 13th Field Investigations Squadron at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, further solidified OSI's role in international security. These initiatives also underscore OSI's strategic goals and commitment to tackling complex global challenges through cooperative measures.

In addition to having a global reach, OSI welcomed international counterparts from around the world to its headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, reinforcing its commitment to global cooperation and partnership in addressing security challenges. 

Also domestically, OSI's collaboration with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service was highlighted in November during a joint range day at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. This inaugural event, involving nearly 30 agents and staff, focused on proficiency firing and new weapons familiarization, demonstrating the value of inter-agency training and information sharing in enhancing operational efficiency and inter-service cooperation.

OSI’s people

Beyond the strategic operations and international exercises, the heart of OSI in 2023 was captured in a series of stories about its people. 

During Police Week 2023, OSI paid homage to Col. Eugene Smith, an OSI officer killed in a 1952 plane crash. Nearly 70 years later, Smith was formally recognized at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial.

Smith's name, now etched on the memorial, not only commemorates his role as one of OSI's earliest members but also reconnects OSI with his legacy. 

Later in 2023, OSI witnessed a different kind of tribute. Chief Master Sgt. Kelly Luzum, a Calmar, Iowa, native and a 24-year military veteran, was honored by the community he grew up in with a handmade quilt, custom-made by his local community to show their shared pride and heartfelt congratulations to the chief, who will be retiring in 2024. 

But Luzum wasn’t the only Special Agent recognized in 2023. Special Agent Joshua Klepac was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor this year for his heroic actions during a terrorist attack at Camp Simba in Manda Bay, Kenya, in 2020. This award, a testament to his courage and quick thinking under extreme circumstances, was presented at a ceremony at OSI headquarters in Quantico, Virginia.

During the attack, Klepac not only reestablished crucial communication lines but also played a pivotal role in coordinating a joint response with U.S. Marine, Kenyan special operations teams and Kenyan ground forces, his citation read. 

Stories of Special Agents, like Luzum or Klepac, are just a few examples of many that showcased OSI personnel at home and abroad in 2023. 

In addition to taking on the mission, OSI members were recognized for their achievements academically and across the law enforcement community, like Special Agent McCormick, who received the John L. Levitow award after he graduated from the Noncommissioned Officers Course Academy at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in February.

Reflecting on OSI's pivotal moments and accomplishments in 2023, each example of leadership, strategic development and personal bravery continues to contribute to the larger narrative of OSI's dedication to protecting the Department of the Air Force and maintaining international security.

"Looking ahead to 2024, our agency is set on the path of innovation, resilience and collaborative efforts," Bumgarner said. "As we build on the groundwork laid by this year's achievements, the courage and dedication shown by OSI in 2023 will serve as more than just noteworthy accomplishments; they are steppingstones to OSI’s future.”

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