QUANTICO, Va. --
(Editor’s Note: Four Air Force Office of Special Investigations Special Agents and two Security Forces defenders were killed when their joint patrol, Hustler 6, was attacked by a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle near Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Dec. 21, 2015. These are the personal memories and lessons learned by one of their surviving Wingmen.)
I first met (Special Agent) Chester McBride in 2011 when he was assigned to OSI Detachment 405 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. I was a combat arms instructor already interested in OSI, and Chester was their newest agent. From the start I admired Chester for his positive outlook on life and his drive to better himself. This extended from the firing range to his career. Chester was always looking for ways to be better. He spoke passionately about his reasons for joining OSI and what he envisioned his future to hold. This passion and drive eventually led to his recruitment by the FBI. When I finally decided to pursue OSI, he was always there with helpful advice and took part in running my Agent Special Investigation.
The day I found out I was going to FLETC (the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center), I was called to Det. 405 where Chester greeted me at the door. He was no stranger to the gym and struck quite an intimidating figure, especially when he locked eyes with me and said, “hands on the wall!” With an angry look that was rare for people who knew him, Chester proceeded to search me and placed me in an interview room where he told me to “sit tight.” After about 20 minutes Chester and another Special Agent came in and read me for Article 112A (wrongful use of controlled substance).
The next 10 minutes were the most confusing of my life as Chester seemed to be getting increasingly angry that I would not tell them what I knew about May 11th. I finally grew frustrated and told them I was going to need a lawyer because I didn’t know what they were talking about. Chester slammed his fist on the table and shouted, “That’s the day you’re going to FLETC!” Then he erupted into one of those trademark Chester smiles. We kept in contact since that day and were excited to learn we were deploying together. I’m blessed to have spent those final months catching up and working alongside this great Special Agent. I can still picture that giant smile Chester always seemed to have and it still has its infectious effect.
Chester taught me passion, drive, and hard work always pay off, we just can’t give up. He also taught me that there are too many blessings in life to walk around angry, so smile and press on.
I met (Special Agent) Michael Cinco our first day at FLETC, where he was quickly identified by his trademark, “yeah bro,” which is a phrase with many meanings. Though Cinco and I were not very close at FLETC, you could always find him where the party was, mostly because Cinco was the party. Cinco’s fun loving personality drew people to him and it was always a good time. Cinco was the type of guy who could make mopping the floor fun. What would start out as an arduous chore would end with everyone laughing in tears. That’s just the type of guy he was.
Cinco and I became good friends in CTOC (the Counter Threat Operations Course) and the months leading up to our deployment. When we finally arrived at Al Udeid, Qatar, we found out OSI was short on lodging and one of our group members would have to stay in the 30-man transient bays. I drew the short stick on that deal but Cinco gave up his room to come and bunk with me. It was an unnecessary gesture but one that spoke volumes about Cinco’s character. He was the quintessential wingman through and through and genuinely cared about people. Cinco and I also shared a room at Bagram where we spent the majority of our time laughing about one joke or another or coming up with ways to mess with the rest of the team.
Cinco taught me that even in the worst of times, laughter is the best medicine, and when an opportunity presents itself, just say “yeah bro” and seize the day.
I met (Special Agent) Peter Taub in September 2014, while attending the cognitive interview course at FLETC. I knew Pete and I were kindred spirits when he walked in wearing Realtree camo boots and holding a fantasy novel. We both shared a love for hunting, fishing and books about nerdy stuff like wizards and dragons. I spent that week teamed up with Pete and one other Special Agent as we honed our interviewing skills. Pete was a master story teller and had a knack for putting people at ease.
He, like Chester, could always be seen with a big grin on his face and was as fun loving as they come. Being deployed with Pete was a mixture of highly intellectual conversations and dodging nerf darts from one of the many nerf guns he kept loaded and ready to sneak attack an unsuspecting Special Agent.
Pete reminded me to enjoy the little things in life, but most importantly, to stay true to who you are, because that is the version that shines the most.
While my time with SA (Adrianna) Vorderbruggen, Tech. Sgt. (Joseph) Lemm, and Staff Sgt. (Louis) Bonacasa was limited, I’m thankful for every moment spent with them. I’ll save their stories for someone who can do them the proper justice.
In closing I leave you with this, every day our nation asks men and women to leave their homes and combat evil in every shadowy corner of the globe. As OSI Special Agents, it’s our mission to protect our Airmen and joint force brethren in that fight. Our Hustler 6, and those before them, made the ultimate sacrifice while executing that mission.
They are gone but never forgotten, and it’s up to us to honor their memory and carry on their legacy. So in honor of our Hustler 6 I challenge everyone to find passion and drive forward with a smile, to laugh a little more and say “yeah bro” to those opportunities, to stay true to yourself and enjoy the little things, but most importantly I challenge you to give your all every day, for those who no longer can.
Your brother in arms,
SA Jason P. McCoy