21st SW supports POTUS visit

PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- The 21st Space Wing was privileged to assist with the President of the United States' recent trip to Colorado Springs. Specifically, several agencies in the wing were instrumental in providing unsurpassed installation support and protection for the president and his team before and after President Bush's speech at the Air Force Academy graduation ceremony on May 28.

As the second busiest distinguished visitor flight line in the Air Force, second only to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Peterson AFB is no stranger to supporting distinguished visitors; however, there is quite a bit more planning and logistical support that takes place when the visitor is the President of the United States. Needless to say, like any distinguished visit to the base, I'm proud to say the results were the same and that is the 21st Space Wing was able to deliver outstanding support and contribute to the visit's overall success. This success would not have been possible without the incredible teamwork that went into the planning and execution phases.

First and foremost, my thanks to Mr. Ken Friesz and his entire protocol team for their tremendous work. 21st SW Protocol handled the initial planning and arrangements weeks ahead of time and was the central point of contact in resolving all protocol issues. Without their proactive coordination with the White House operations staff and the Air Force Academy protocol office, President Bush's visit would not have gone nearly as smooth. Our protocol team definitely fulfilled their vision of delivering world-class protocol support with seamless flexibility and unmatched professionalism. Thanks again Ken for the above and beyond support ... we continue to rely heavily on your team's expertise for all of our VIP visits, ceremonies, conferences, and special events.

Another important player in the preparation and execution of the presidential visit was our 21st Security Forces Squadron. This team of warriors ensured proper security with bomb sweeps, traffic control, escorts, and K-9 units in support of overall security objectives. Finally, I must mention the superb contributions of Master Sgt. Tristum Darby, Non-commissioned Officer in Charge of Police Services, for his steadfast leadership. In conjunction with the Secret Service, he laid the groundwork in putting together our security plan and was the key figure in the wing for resolving any security issues ahead of time. We couldn't have asked for more than what we received from Sergeant Darby and the 21st SFS.

As mentioned earlier, any presidential visit requires a great deal of logistics and operational support. Fortunately, we had Mr. Bob Schwaeble and the 21st Operations Support Squadron as our POC in this area. With Bob's leadership, 21st OSS handled all the details with ease ... whether it was fuel and parking for Air Force One and Marine One, or any other required logistical support, the results were flawless.

Other folks in the wing who made significant contributions included the Peterson Weather Flight (also part of 21st OSS), the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, and our Public Affairs office. Their behind-the-scenes efforts were invaluable in completing all associated actions for President Bush's visit. Again, the entire effort was a classic example of a team pulling together to get the job done and I am proud to have been associated with such a display of teamwork.

Another successful Peterson AFB event from the past week was an enlistment and re-enlistment ceremony hosted by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds on May 25. A total of approximately 60 Airmen from the Front Range area took the oath of enlistment in front of the world-renown Thunderbirds team while pledging their willingness to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. The first group consisted of 50 individuals enlisting for the first time while the second group consisted of 10 Airmen re-enlisting. The presiding officer for each group was the Thunderbirds commander, Lieutenant Colonel Greg Thomas. It was a very special day for these Airmen and their families, one which will undoubtedly provide lifelong memories to those who witnessed the ceremony. My thanks to Master Sgt. Mary LaCombe for her leadership in making this event a reality. As the event action officer, she was the lead planner ensuring all details were covered and guaranteeing success for the event. I'd also like to give special thanks to each Air Force Thunderbird for their contributions as well. I really appreciate each member taking time out of their busy schedule to accommodate this ceremony; it was truly spectacular.

Before closing, I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that the "101 Critical Days of Summer" safety campaign officially began on May 23 and will last through the end of Labor Day weekend. Although safety is a priority any time of the year, folks should be particularly safety conscious during the 101 Critical Days of Summer due to the fact that people spend more time traveling and participating in recreational activities ... and with this increased activity comes additional risk.

I encourage everyone to stress to their co-workers and families that safety is not an option. Thinking about and practicing Operational Risk Management at work and at home is a proven way to mitigate these risks. Also, please stress that wearing seatbelts is not an option either. Department of Defense policy states that seatbelt usage on and off base, as well as on and off duty, is mandatory. Finally, another point to remember is that talking on a cell phone without the use of a hands-free device is prohibited when driving on a military installation. If you see someone using a cell phone without a hands-free device, please take the time to remind them of the policy ... it could very well prevent a serious mishap. Again, keeping safety in the back of our minds this summer will go a long way in keeping everyone safe and sound.