New AUS Officers Sworn in During Eclipse

Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Newly sworn in Officers turn on their cell phone lights as the eclipse darkens the sky. (Photo courtesy of Ignacio Reyes)

On Monday, a rare solar eclipse crossed the U.S., drawing enormous crowds outdoors to catch a glimpse of the covered sun. At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS), TSA’s newest recruits gathered outside for a special swearing-in ceremony during the rarely seen event.  

FSD Gil Almaraz swears in AUS’ newest TSA Officers as the solar eclipse takes place. (Photo courtesy of Ignacio Reyes)
AUS took advantage of the rare cosmic event to swear in its newest Officers. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Brackmann)

According to NASA, the latest eclipse’s path passed over more cities and densely populated areas than the 2017 eclipse, making it easier for people to see. The eclipse’s route put AUS along the path of totality – meaning, for a brief period of time, the moon completely blocked the sun.

“It’s such a historic occasion in our daily lives,” said Heather Proctor, Assistant Federal Security Director – Mission Support. “It’s the commonality of so many diverse people coming together to share something that makes it so special and incredible!”

FSD Gil Almaraz and several AUS FSD staff members helped set the stage by bringing out the U.S. and DHS flags so the new employees could feel special on their first momentous day at TSA. 

Armed with solar glasses, AUS leadership took advantage of the cosmic event, preparing to swear in recruits under the dimming light of the early afternoon.

New hires Alma Estrada, Maria Viera, Kanyarat Benamad, Rodney Lonix.  (Photo courtesy of Ignacio Reyes).
New hires Alma Estrada, Maria Viera, Kanyarat Benamad, Rodney Lonix. (Photo courtesy of Ignacio Reyes).

“This was a breathtaking event,” said Executive Assistant Kelly Giles. “The feeling of being a part of a historical event was extraordinary! All the while, another historical event was happening as FSD Almaraz swore in the new hires.”

As the sun slipped behind the moon and the parking lots came on, Almaraz began swearing in the employees. The group turned on their cell phone lights and posed for a picture in the darkened lot.

Eclipse photo taken by TSA AUS Financial Specialist Brian Irsik at his home near lake Georgetown with an iPhone 15 pro plus.

“Sometimes it’s the little things that count,” said Almaraz. “In this case, we were able to make a big deal of our new hires during a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

It was a first day on the job the new Officers will always remember.

Now, one question remains: Will these Officers inherit any supernatural, eagle-eyed abilities from the solar event? Only time will tell.

By: Ignacio R. Reyes Jr., AUS Stakeholder Relations Manager, and Kimberlyn Pepe, Strategic Communications & Public Affairs