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Preserving traditions one event at a time

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- From itineraries to transportation and seating arrangements, the protocol office has a part in every base event, ensuring military traditions and customs and courtesies are not forgotten.

During the planning process of events, including change of command ceremonies, retirements and distinguished visitor tours, protocol is there to assist and carry out the order of events.

"We have a very behind-the-scenes job," said Tech. Sgt. Jacqueline Chant, 28th Bomb Wing NCO in charge of protocol. "We make sure the assigned POC [of events] is doing their job and that the event won't embarrass the wing commander."

These protocol Airmen have a vital role in DV visits, often requiring weeks of preparation prior to the individual arriving.

"During DV visits, we set up the itinerary for the duration of their stay," said Arliss Sakos, 28th BW chief of protocol. "We also reserve vehicles and hotels for them, and arrange all meals and events prior to them hitting the ground."

While Airmen usually serve in protocol for one or two years, Sakos has been in a permanent position since 2001, overseeing numerous DV visits, including former President George W. Bush. 

"This job really provides great opportunities," Sakos said. "I like working DV visits because they are all different. Every day, for that matter, is different. Something can come up at any minute, and I love that aspect."

Sakos and Chant agree DV visits provide an opportunity to be creative and have fun with their job, tailoring the tour to the specific person.

"It's so cool that we get to meet all of these people who come to see our base," Chant said. "I just recently had the chance to meet Buzz Aldrin and several mayors."

These unique opportunities do not come without long hours, hard work and dedication, Sakos explained. 

"We put in a lot of hours that no one sees," Sakos said. "It can be a lot of work, but it is definitely worth it in the end."