President Biden lands at Martin State Air National Guard Base

  • Published
  • By SrA Alexandra Huettner
  • 175th Wing

MIDDLE RIVER, Md. – President Joseph R. Biden landed at Martin State Air National Guard Base, April 5, 2024, before heading to Baltimore with Maryland Gov. Wes Moore to assess the damage from the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse.

175th Wing Airmen supported many facets of the presidential movement to ensure a smooth transition from Marine One to a motorcade heading to the collapse site and back. It was the first time the Maryland Air National Guard had a U.S. president on base.

Airmen from the 175th Security Forces Squadron provided an increased security posture on base and worked closely with Secret Service and local law enforcement before and during the movements of POTUS and support personnel.

“To help ensure operational security, the members who volunteered did not know what they were volunteering to do,” said Senior Master Sgt. Yantzy Arnell, 175th Security Forces operations superintendent. “I could not be more proud of our Defenders, the operation couldn’t have gone better with such a short notice visit and high level of security required for such a movement.”

Coordination with presidential advance teams, including the Secret Service and White House staff, began a few days earlier to organize the ingress and egress of various Marine aircraft, dozens of vehicles for the motorcade, and the secure transportation of POTUS.

“When we came in, we didn't know what we were volunteering for,” said Airman 1st Class Michael Milchling, 175th Security Forces member. “Once we found out, it was an exciting feeling because it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the President of the United States to be landing on our base.”

Maryland State Police, Baltimore County Police, and Baltimore County Fire Department also supported the presidential motorcade that was staged on base.

The 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron provided Airmen to ensure that all presidential aircraft were fueled and ready to depart when the President returned. Maryland Airmen servicing Marine One with fuel were vetted by “appropriate agencies.”

“The ability to not only support the mission of our wing, but the chance to demonstrate the professionalism of the Maryland Air National Guard and the resiliency of Baltimore, while playing a small part in boosting our city’s morale was a proud day for us,” said Tech. Sgt. La’Toya Turner, fuels accountant for the 175th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

One of the most challenging elements for the POTUS visit was flightline operations. Tech. Sgt. Christopher Curry, airfield manager for the 175th Operations Group, worked directly with Martin State Airport staff, White House staff, the Secret Service, and support staff from Air Force One and Marine One for a “huge build up” for the POTUS movement. Because most of the 104th Fighter Squadron is deployed, he was the main point of contact for the 175th Wing.

“[POTUS] arrived, got off the helicopter, hopped into the motorcade and went and did his presidential duties, and when he came back later it was kind of like everything in reverse,” said Curry. “As soon as his helicopters departed off the airfield and they were above the treeline, you could kind of see a calm happen over the base.”

Curry ensured everything ran smoothly during the event, and the Marine One crew provided him with a signed lithograph of the helicopter as a thanks for his efforts.

“The circumstances in which the president was here with the bridge is just a very sad occasion,” said Curry. “But it was an amazing, once in a lifetime, awesome experience and I'm just happy to be on a team that is a part of the history of this base.”

As President Biden was on the flightline preparing to depart on Marine One, he greeted Maryland Air National Guard Col. Richard Hunt, 175th Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. James Bottorff, 175th Wing command chief.

“I can’t begin to explain the immeasurable amount of coordination and logistical support required to enable a presidential movement,” said Hunt. “But our members delivered unmatched executive-level support for the presidential teams and enabled a seamless air to ground movement for our commander-in-chief.”