Securing Super Bowl XLVIII

U.S. Air Force Col. Bradford Everman from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing boards his F-16C Fighting Falcon prior to takeoff in support of the total force security mission for Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014, at Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J. Everman is the 177th Operations Group commander.  (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht)

U.S. Air Force Col. Bradford Everman from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing boards his F-16C Fighting Falcon prior to takeoff in support of the total force security mission for Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014, at Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, N.J. Everman is the 177th Operations Group commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht)

ATLANTIC CITY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.J. -- While millions of Americans enjoyed Super Bowl XLVIII from the comfort of their living rooms, a select group of airmen from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing were tasked with providing safety and security at MetLife Stadium on Feb. 2. While F-16C Fighting Falcons circled high above, airmen on the ground secured checkpoints and conducted patrols around the stadium.

While the air effort for Super Bowl XLVIII was led by the FBI, other organizations of the total team effort included U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the 177th Fighter Wing.

Col. Bradford Everman, the 177th Operations Group commander, was one of the pilots who took part in the joint security mission.

"Part of what we do is put a temporary flight restriction over top of the stadium, the Super Bowl itself, and the whole idea is to restrict unauthorized aircraft from a place they shouldn't be," said Everman.

"It's not necessarily a hostile aircraft, it could be someone who's lost, it could be someone who is having aircraft issues and is simply trying to fly a flight path they think is safest, so it's not a presumption of hostility," continued Everman. "It's a layered defense, so what we hope to do is to get their attention, and move them away from the Super Bowl. If we can't, we use a graduated response, to do what we need to do to provide safety and security."

On the ground, airmen from the 177th Security Forces Squadron teamed up with fellow New Jersey Air National Guardsman from the 108th Wing to participate in the complex security mission around the stadium.

"Our forces assisted with security on the ground, working hand-in-hand with the N.J. State Police and other law enforcement agencies," said Senior Master Sgt. John Sacchetti, 177th Security Forces Operations superintendent.

Staff Sgt. Luis Rodriguez, a security forces specialist from the 177th Security Forces Combat Arms, Training, and Maintenance shop, was a part of the ground operation at MetLife stadium for the week leading up to game day.

"It was such a great experience working with all of the other agencies," said Rodriguez. "They had security forces airmen paired up with the N.J. State Police, which I think was such a unique learning experience. Not only did we get be a part of this operation from a learning perspective, we also go to be part of a national pastime, which felt really special."