National Guard off duty at Kingman Airport

The Arizona Army National Guard will no longer maintain a presence at Kingman Airport.

Saturday was the last day the guardsmen provided added security for the two daily flights out of Kingman.

"The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) now assumes responsibility for airport security," said Bob Najaka, director of aviation at Kingman Airport.

"We are temporarily furnishing security through local law enforcement agencies."

Najaka does not know exactly when the TSA will place personnel in the terminal at Kingman Airport.

Until that happens, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office will provide the security presence handled since October by the National Guard.

Detective Harry Traxler of the MCSO was at the airport Friday afternoon, observing the guardsmen as they monitored the security screening process for passengers preparing to depart.

A total of 12 guardsmen were assigned to Kingman Airport for security following the terrorist attacks of Sept.

11.

They are members of Detachment 7 HQ State Area Readiness Command, which is based in Phoenix.

"The duty here has been different from anything we've done before," Staff Sgt.

Ernest Soles said.

"Kingman is a small town and I've enjoyed being here.

The people are friendly and I'd come back any time."

Soles is a computer technician who works for Motorola.

His unit was activated to provide airport security around the state.

He said he is not aware of any incidents at Kingman Airport during the seven months the Guard has maintained a presence.

He added that armed guardsmen seemed to put travelers more at ease.

Chuck Obney, president of the Kingman Airport Authority (KAA), agreed.

"People have appreciated the presence of the Guard," Obney said.

"Everyone has felt more secure and enjoyed having the guardsmen around."

National Guard presence at all airports was to end May 10 by presidential order.

But the KAA obtained an extension through Saturday in order to work out the agreement with the MCSO for security, Najaka said.

The KAA has an agreement through December 2003 with the TSA, which states the TSA will reimburse the KAA to pay for extra security personnel, who will be provided by the MCSO, Najaka said.

Jarrod Lyman, media spokesman, said off-duty deputies who volunteer would be stationed at Kingman Airport for an indefinite period.