The husband of the Air Force’s top enlisted leader fired a warning shot at an intruder who was outside their home at Joint Base Andrews in suburban Washington on Monday, the service confirmed to Air Force Times.
Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass, the most senior enlisted airman and adviser to the Air Force chief of staff, said she and her husband, Rahn Bass, are safe.
“We appreciate the outpouring of support we received after this incident. I can confirm that my husband, Rahn, was involved and is safe, thanks to the quick response and professionalism of our security forces airmen,” she said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. “We are grateful they were able to apprehend the individual, and we will continue to work with law enforcement as their investigation continues.”
As chief, Bass has overseen the morale and welfare of more than 600,000 airmen, including more than 263,000 active duty enlisted troops, since August 2020. Her husband is a retired Army first sergeant (E-8), among the service’s highest enlisted ranks.
This is the fifth security incident in two years at Joint Base Andrews, one of the nation’s most sensitive military bases.
During the incident, which occurred at about 11:30 a.m. Monday, “a man gained unauthorized access to a JBA housing area,” Andrews said in a statement posted to Twitter. “A resident discharged a firearm, security forces arrived on scene to apprehend the intruder and law enforcement is investigating the incident.”
Joint Base Andrews is home to the fleet of blue-and-white presidential aircraft, including Air Force One and the “Doomsday” Boeing 747 aircraft that can serve as the nation’s airborne nuclear command-and-control centers if needed.
The Air Force said late Monday it did not have anything to add beyond the Andrews statement about Monday’s intrusion.
Social media users criticized the installation for keeping mum on the incident for several hours. A spokesperson for the 316th Wing, which oversees the day-to-day operations at Andrews, said they would release another update on the response Tuesday.
In February 2021, a man got onto the installation through the military checkpoint and additional fenced, secure areas to gain access to the flight line and climb into a C-40, which is the military’s 737-equivalent aircraft used to fly government officials.
That intruder was apprehended because the “mouse ears” cap he was wearing struck an observant airman as odd.
An inspector general’s investigation found three main security failings, starting with “human error” by a gate security guard who allowed the man to drive onto the base even though he had no credentials that authorized his access. Hours later, the man walked undetected onto the flight line by slipping through a fence designed to restrict entry. Finally, he walked onto and off a parked airplane without being challenged, even though he was not wearing a required badge authorizing access to the restricted area.
The Air Force pledged to review its base security protocols around the world in response to the intrusion.
The next month, a 29-year-old man was arrested after repeatedly ramming a swing arm barrier at Andrews’ main gate.
In May 2021, a man falsely told security forces at Andrews’ main entrance that he had a bomb in his car. Live news video of the scene showed a sedan parked outside the gate, where an explosive ordnance disposal airman wearing a protective suit checked the car alongside a bomb-inspection robot. Bomb-sniffing military dogs also swept the vehicle.
And in March 2022, security forces apprehended a 17-year-old male with a firearm after a vehicle ignored their commands at the main gate.
This is an evolving story and will be updated.
Rachel Cohen joined Air Force Times as senior reporter in March 2021. Her work has appeared in Air Force Magazine, Inside Defense, Inside Health Policy, the Frederick News-Post (Md.), the Washington Post, and others.