Always at the ready: Two security officers dedicate their careers to serving others

Sgt. Thomas Sherman Easton, a veteran of Vietnam and Desert Storm, checks a driver’s ID at an access control point. Easton, 75, is Fort Meade’s oldest security officer. (Photo by Lisa R. Rhodes)

For a related story on Fort Meade gate guards, click here.

Two longtime security officers are familiar faces to the Fort Meade community: Sgt. Thomas Sherman Easton and Sgt. Michael Speis.

“We’re here to protect them and ensure their safety,” Easton said.

At age 75, Easton is the oldest security officer on the team. He hails from a military family.

His grandfather Thomas L. Johnson served in the Spanish-American War and World War I. Johnson was a company commander in the 367th Infantry Regiment in World War I; 1st Lt. Benjamin O. Davis Sr. was his executive officer.

Drafted into the Army in 1961, Easton fought in the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in 1968 and was awarded the Purple Heart.

In 1976, he served as the senior maintenance noncommissioned officer for the 76th Engineering Battalion at Fort Meade and settled here with his family.

Easton retired from the Army in 1982, but was called back into service six months after the start of Desert Storm in 1990. He served as the maintenance NCO in charge of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade in Kuwait.

After a year of service, Easton was an investigator for the Department of Justice for three years and eventually worked at Meade High School, where he was an assistant instructor for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps from 1997 to 1999.

He then worked as a security officer for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor before being hired as a contract security officer for Wackenhut Security at Fort Meade in 2010.

A year later, the Wackenhut contract security officers were hired by the Department of the Army.

He also earned an associate’s degree in maintenance from the adult education program at Fort Belvoir, Va.

“This job is important to me,” he said. “There’s something new every day.”

Sgt. Michael Speis is a staff sergeant in the Army Reserve and a veteran. Prior to Fort Meade, Speis worked at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup. (Photo by Lisa R. Rhodes)

Speis also comes from a military family. His father served three tours in Korea and eventually worked at Bolling Air Force Base.

Speis enlisted in the Army in 1979 and served in Korea and Japan before serving at Aberdeen Proving Ground in 1989.

Speis said that at the time he was a single father and was not allowed to re-enlist, so he became a corrections officer and worked at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women in Jessup as a training coordinator until 2007.

He then came to Fort Meade, where he too was hired by Wackenhut as a contractor security officer. Two years later, a desire to rejoin the Army led Speis to sign up for the Army Reserve. He became an Army recruiter and worked for the Baltimore Recruiting Battalion until 2012.

Speis earned at associate’s degree in Network Systems Administration from ITT Technical Institute in Owings Mills, and a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Mars Hill University in North Carolina.

A staff sergeant in the Army Reserve, Speis will retire next year.

“I get to deal with people all day and help people,” he said. “You have to have good customer service skills.”

(From left:) Sgt. Michael Speis and Sgt. Thomas Sherman Easton, two longtime Fort Meade security officers, check the perimeter of the installation at the Mapes Road gate with Robert Henry, chief of the Access Control Branch at the Directorate of Emergency Services. Speis and Easton are two of 46 security officers who help defend the installation from criminal activity. (Photo by Lisa R. Rhodes)
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