OSI Year In Review

  • Published
  • By Thomas Brading
  • OSI Public Affairs

2022 has been a banner year for the Office of Special Investigations, bringing new challenges, inspiring stories, modern weapons, many closed cases and more that have defined OSI as a premiere federal law enforcement agency.

As 2023 looms, we look back on several stories that paved our way the past 12 months.  

Inspirational stories

The most impactful of our news articles this year have been the inspiring stories we've shared involving OSI’s people. 

In March, Special Agent Michael Robinette and Staff Sgt. Phillip Sibold, then-assigned to OSI Detachment 802 at Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, were bystanders to an off-base assault involving a man who purposely hit a woman with a truck and assaulted her in broad daylight.

They intervened in the domestic violence incident and were praised by local law officials and OSI leaders. As a result, the man was charged with attempted murder and the woman was left fighting for her life.

If the OSI team had not been nearby to step in before local officials arrived, the outcome could have been different, according to the Brevard County Sheriff's Office.

There were also some cases intended to inspire, uplift and promote equality.

During the summer, Special Agent Logan Ireland, 5th Field Investigation Squadron at Det. 611, shared his story of being a transgender man serving in the U.S. Air Force. As a result of Ireland's story, he and his wife, Laila, discussed transgender equality as well as the dignity and respect he has received at OSI.  

“Ever since accepting his role as a Special Agent, it seems Logan has found his purpose and mission in the Air Force most fulfilling,” Laila said. “Although the work can be tedious and at long length, he takes pride in every single thing he does and puts his absolute best efforts forward.”

Other history-makers found their place within the agency this year as well.

Like Chief Master Sgt. Erik Powell, who was named the first Active Guard/Reserve chief master Sergeant in the agency’s history. It was celebrated by a promotion ceremony at Air Force Reserve Command Headquarters, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, June 30 2022.

Or Special Agent Melanie Finch, Office of Special Investigations Detachment 805, who won big at a bodybuilding competition in April.

Finch participated in the National Physique Competition Northern Colorado Bodybuilding, Fitness, Figure, Bikini, Physique and Classic Physique Championships in Denver, taking first and second place in multiple categories.

From working out to competitions, Finch said she is gratified not only by her competition victories but also by the people she meets.

“It helps other people because I’ve had a lot of other women reach out to me wanting to have a weight-loss goal or compete,” said Finch. “It inspires me. People will say ‘It’s cool what you’re doing. I respect that and it motivated me to start my journey.’ I love hearing that from other people.”

Modernized firearms

The agency continues to innovate as its people continue to inspire. This was evident earlier this year when OSI officials unveiled new sidearm options for its agents, who will soon have the option of carrying the Glock 19 and 26 sidearms.

“This is a momentous occasion for our command as we will soon have the flexibility to field two firearms to better support our unique mission requirements and our members,” said Brig. Gen. Terry Bullard, OSI commander, during a command-wide announcement.

The announcement follows the signing of a contract to acquire new weapon systems for their inventory. The new weapons will replace OSI’s Sig Saur M11/P228 systems.

The new pistols were lauded for their reliability and safety by police, federal law enforcement, and militaries around the world.

Honoring history

As the agency marches ahead into the future, OSI also drew attention to its past by welcoming fourteen former top leaders back to Quantico, Virginia, Oct. 12, 2022, to celebrate the command’s history.

“Having this extraordinary combination of former OSI leaders in one place, with their collective insights, knowledge and experience, was incredible,” Bullard said.

“Through their experiences at OSI, we gained insight into why our agency today stands on such a firm foundation - and their thoughts on how to help make our evolution into the future was priceless,” he added.

The former leaders all seemed to look back on their time fondly, saying they would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

“If I could turn back the hands of time, I’d do it all over again,” said Brig. Gen. (retired) Kevin Jacobsen, OSI’s commander from 2010 to 2014, adding that OSI gave him countless opportunities that led to a variety of adventures and experiences all around the world.

2022 was not without its somber moments. Retired Col. Forest Singhoff, the ninth commander of the Office of Special Investigations, died April 24, 2022, at age 94.

Singhoff, who served as OSI’s top boss from April 1977 to May 1980, held the agency together during a time officials wanted to merge it into Air Force Security Forces and rebrand it as a “detective squad.”

In some cases, history wasn't exclusively about people; it was about institutions as well. In October, the Air Force Special Investigations Academy celebrated twenty years of training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, in Glynco, Georgia.

However, the history of the academy dates back over 73 years to Jan. 24 1949, when Brig. Gen. Joseph F. Carroll, OSI’s first commander, issued a memorandum to the Air Force Inspector General’s Office that the first class of a new OSI training school was scheduled to convene two weeks later, on Feb. 7, at the District of Columbia National Guard Armory.

OSI Podcasts

This year, 17 OSI Today and My OSI Journey podcasts, brought to 45 the number of total episodes aired since the program’s inception July 13, 2020.

“The wealth of mission-related information, coupled with the many unique personal stories made for a year of memorable listening,” said Wayne Amann, the podcasts’ producer and host.

Highlighting OSI Today, which focuses on News and Views from around the command, were episodes about: the inner workings of the OSI Cold Case Program; OSI’s role in sexual assault investigations; how OSI protects the innovation enterprise through partnerships; an audio tour of the OSI Hall of Heroes; and the significant strides made by the command’s Diversity Plus Inclusion program.

Showcasing the D+I of our Command-wide members My OSI Journey brought us, among others, the 40-year Air Force/OSI career story of Organizational Development Director, Mr. Ken Sallinger; Command Analysis and Production Manager, Ms. Carol Jackson, shared her thoughts on the Women’s History Month observance; and OSI Staff Judge Advocate, Col. Ryan Hendricks, shared his background as a professional baseball player transitioning from the diamond to the Air Force courtroom. 

Justice for All

The public affairs office has launched a new series of stories about closed cases around the agency. "Justice for All" is a periodic news series highlighting recent court-martial cases involving OSI Special Agents.

For example, a 42-month prison sentence was handed down to an Airman in July for sexual assault and sexual abuse contract, following an investigation by OSI Det. 303 at Travis Air Force Base, California.

"OSI has a long history of finding the truth and bringing those truths to trial,” said Special Agent Lindsey B. Tenney, Det. 303 commander, in the release. “The Special Agents of Det. 303 and their unwavering efforts lived up to that standard in bringing justice to this case.”

Other cases we highlighted echoed those unwavering efforts, like in September, when SAs from OSI Det. 405 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, went undercover to foil a human trafficking and murder scheme that landed an Airman in prison for 35 years.

In that case, OSI worked alongside other law enforcement agencies, including Homeland Security Investigations' Human Trafficking Division and the Montgomery Police Department SWAT team in Montgomery, Alabama.

A total of 14 JFA news articles were published, with more planned for next year.

Mission partners

Often, the JFA series highlights OSI's collaboration with other law enforcement agencies. While those were just a portion of the agency's activities, mission partners continue to play a key role in the agency's daily mission success. 

Earlier this year, Special Agents Emily Leggett and Michael Buckley, both assigned to the 4th Field Investigations Squadron in Vogelweh Cantonment, Germany, interacted with over 50 Georgian Military Police members from the U.S. Embassy Force Protection Detachment in Georgia.

“The exchange allowed participants an opportunity to share critical skills and knowledge and increase their ability to successfully process and document crime scenes,” said Special Agent Mark Ryan, FPD Tbilisi, Georgia and attendee.

Other special agents have been recognized by mission partners, like Special Agent Daniel Scarola, OSI 6 FIR, SMB OL-A, who was presented the U.S. State Department Meritorious Honor Award, Aug. 17 2022, approved and signed by John Hennessy-Hiland, U.S. Ambassador, before Scarola parted Palau to retire.

Not all mission partners were international, some were just down the road. For example, in March, Chief Master Sgt. Roger A. Towberman, the U.S. Space Force’s top enlisted Guardian, stopped by the Russell Knox Building in Quantico, Virginia, for an in-depth look at how OSI operates.

When the CMSSF arrived, he was received by multiple senior leaders, including Chief Master Sgt. Gregg Gow, OSI’s command chief, who Towberman said was an old friend.

“Airmen and Guardians are committed to protecting the nation’s security, side-by-side, and walking along the halls of OSI headquarters with [the CMSSF] exemplifies our continuing partnership," Gow said.

Other top leaders, like Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Charles Q. Brown, attended a joint integration briefing by OSI Field Investigations Region 6 leaders Aug. 5, 2022, at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The visit was Brown's first time back since becoming Air Force chief.

Honoring the Fallen

Honoring OSI's Fallen is a significant aspect of both the agency's past and present.

On Memorial Day, one of NASCAR’s largest racing events honored fallen heroes, including an Office of Special Investigations Special Agent. As part of the 2022 Coca-Cola 600, also known as "600 Miles of Remembrance," windshield headers featured the names of fallen troops.

One of the honorees at the NASCAR race was Tech. Sgt. Ryan Balmer, an OSI Special Agent killed by an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2007. His name appeared on the No. 31 Chevrolet driven by Justin Haley, a 23-year-old Indiana native.

The race led into the 15th anniversary of Balmer’s death, who was killed along with fellow OSI Special Agent Matthew Kuglics, roughly 2 miles south of Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq, shortly before their convoy returned to their base.

A few months later, OSI leadership took part in National Police Week, May 15-21, which started with a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial May 16, to honor the agency’s Fallen heroes.

"The sight of our OSI Special Agents' names engraved alongside other fallen law enforcement professionals serves as a reminder to us all that OSI is part of a larger family of law enforcement officers nationwide and globally - and part of a proud tradition of those who serve all - and are willing to give all,” Bullard said. "I was humbled and honored to be present at the memorial and lay our command wreath with the other proud members of our Top 4."

Memorial panels of OSI’s 16 Fallen were placed along the monument in recognition of their service and sacrifice.

As OSI approaches its 75th anniversary on Aug. 1, 2023, its people will continue to be its driving force.

Happy New Year!