BYU Army and Air Force keep Olympics safe

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    By Chantelle Tuitele

    Some BYU students will be able to help with security at the Olympic games.

    Although a handful of students from the BYU Army and Air Force ROTC will participate in the event, Capt. Swagart, assistant professor of aerospace studies, said it is not an ROTC-sponsored activity.

    When the Utah National Guard began recruiting members of the Army to join the Olympic security team, ROTC cadets were exempt from the call, said Capt. Erik Verhoef, assistant professor of military science.

    However, Verhoef, who will be security at the Utah Olympic Park venue, said some cadets did not want to pass up the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. They decided to help on their own, Verhoef said.

    “We”re choosing to go, mainly to be a part of the Olympics and at the same time serve our country,” said Jason Elphick, 24, a senior from Layton, Davis Co., majoring in history.

    Students in the Army ROTC were recently informed on Jan. 1 that they could volunteer their services at the Olympics.

    Then on Jan. 22 those students who opted to be security were given orders to report to Park City for their duties.

    “It has been a really fast activation,” Elphick said. “We”re just jumping on the Olympic bandwagon.”

    Joseph Johnson, 26, a junior from Kaysville, Davis Co., majoring in International studies, said he is excited to be a part of the Olympics. He said he is not worried about the last minute notice.

    “They just changed their security plans after Sept. 11,” he said. “That”s just the Army-there are a lot of changes.”

    Students in the Air Force ROTC have a slightly different story about their involvement in Olympic security.

    Wing commander, Joe Pierce, 25, a senior from San Diego, Calif., majoring in aerospace studies and outdoor recreation and leadership, was given the name and telephone number of a man in charge of security for the Washington Square venue who needed more volunteers to help out.

    Pierce spread the news to fellow Air Force cadets and he even got some friends and family to volunteer as well.

    “You don”t have to be a cadet to do this,” Swagart said.

    He also said non-BYU Air Force and Army cadets have joined the Olympic security team as members of the Utah community who want to serve.

    With the Olympics quickly drawing near, Johnson said he is confident he and others who will be security at different venues will be adequately trained in time for the Games.

    Pierce said there have been two, two-hour orientation sessions at BYU for those who will be security at Washington Square. They also received four hours of training on Monday, Feb. 4.

    Through it all, Pierce said they were informed on how to be the eyes and ears of security and were also shown the importance of being courteous to Olympic visitors.

    “It”s not only about checking bags and doing searches,” he said. “It”s also about customer service-that”s equally a big part of it.”

    Elphick said some bilingual BYU students might be able to translate for those who cannot speak English, while other security volunteers may do actual security checks like sweeping vehicles.

    “We get a chance to help out one way or another,” he said.

    Elphick, Johnson and Pierce all said they are looking forward to meeting the different people who attend the Olympic games and venues.

    “We”ll get to rub shoulders with such a diverse group of people,” Elphick said.

    Each member of the Olympic security team will wear ski pants and parkas decorated with the “security” logo.

    Pierce said he thinks the uniforms will help people be more aware of security.

    “They”ll feel more safe if they know security is around, ensuring the safety of the Games,” he said.

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