Fallen Heroes legacy lives on at OSI HQ

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • AFOSI Public Affairs
The enduring memory of the six Fallen Heroes killed Dec. 21, 2015, by a suicide bomber near Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, still resonates at the headquarters of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations here.

The four OSI Special Agents, Michael A. Cinco, Chester J. McBride, Peter W. Taub and Adrianna M. Vorderbruggen; and two Security Forces defenders, now Honorary Special Agents, Tech. Sgt. Joseph G. Lemm and Staff Sgt. Louis M. Bonacasa, had their Hall of Heroes portraits unveiled during a ceremony May 16 at the Little Hall Auditorium on Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va., before a gathering of families, friends and fellow members of the law enforcement community.

Brig. Gen. Allen J. Jamerson, Director of Security Forces, Chief of Staff for Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection, United States Air Force and Brig. Gen. Keith M. Givens, AFOSI Commander, each celebrated the lives of the Fallen.

"These are good people doing good things for the good of us all," Jamerson said regarding the bond between Security Forces and OSI. "This is one of the most special moments I've ever encountered in my career. We have to take the time to celebrate and honor heroes, and there is no better way to do it than what you have here." 

"Two badges, one mission, there couldn't be a better team," Givens said when speaking of the Security Forces/OSI bond. "The sun never sets on the Hall of Heroes. We didn't invent the legacy, but it's our responsibility and duty to honor it.   

The six portraits were then sanctified by the Rev. Christopher Vorderbruggen, brother of Adrianna Vorderbruggen.

"We have created for ourselves an altar of freedom and from time to time we lay sacrifices upon this altar," Vorderbruggen said in part. "Bless now these works of art that they may be tokens of honor and tools of memory. Grant they assist us and future generations in remembering the sacrifices the six heroes here and their families and loved ones have made."

Following the unveiling, the scene shifted to the Russell-Knox Building for the portrait hanging ceremony in the AFOSI Hall of Heroes, where each family reflected privately with the portrait of their departed loved one.

The six new portraits joined 10 previously enshrined Fallen Heroes whose images serve as a permanent reminder of their ultimate sacrifice.

That sacrifice left a lasting impression on the artist commissioned to render these latest pastel works, each of which took her 56 hours to complete.  

"I'm aware of these magnificent men and women because their portraits personalize their sacrifice," said former Air Force graphic designer Lori Dawson who was previously contracted by OSI to create two portraits for a memorial wall. "Through the eyes and expressions of each person, I came to know them just a little. I seem to feel how much love they had for the people in their lives, how much fun they must have been and how they loved life and made the most of it."

The Hall of Heroes concept itself has its own legacy.

In 1998, AFOSI, then headquartered at Bolling Air Force Base, D.C., directed the creation of a memorial to be displayed at the United States Air Force Special Investigations Academy, Andrews AFB, Md., dedicated to the command's fallen agents who gave their lives in the line of duty.

In October 2002, USAFSIA relocated to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, Ga., however, the memorial stayed at Andrews.

Finally, in 2011, AFOSI HQ moved to Quantico, Va., and established the Hall of Heroes in the new facility outside its command section, where today it's the permanent place of honor for OSI Fallen Heroes.

For those who walk the hallowed hall, they're greeted by the inscription:

"The Blue Wall, The Brotherhood of the Badge, Blue Lightening, The Thin Blue Line.
No matter what you call it, it's a brotherhood unlike any other in the world. Once you put a badge on your chest, a gun on your hip, and start enforcing the laws of the land, you automatically become a member of one of the largest families in the world."

(Editor's Note: Dr. Deborah Kidwell, AFOSI Command Historian, contributed to this article.)