Back from Thule and ready for distinguished visits, happy Martin Luther King remembrance day
By by Col. Jay Raymond, 21st Space Wing commander
/ Published January 14, 2009
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --
Last week, Chief Omdal and I returned from a great visit with the men and women of our Contracting Detachment at Copenhagen, Denmark; and the 821st Air Base Group (ABG) and 12th Space Warning Squadron (SWS) at Thule Air Base, Greenland. Up there at this time of year, it is perpetually dark with sub-zero temperatures. Our troops in those locations have deal with some of the harshest weather conditions in the world, and the Chief and I fully respect and appreciate all of their sacrifices and hard work, in support of the 21st Space Wing mission, to "Conduct flawless missile warning and space control operations, provide unsurpassed installation support and protection, while developing and deploying Warrior Airmen to defend America and our Allies".
While at Thule, we had the chance to see how 821st ABG runs the Department of Defense's northernmost base on a daily basis. They do a fantastic job and represent our wing and USAF with professionalism and selflessness. The Chief and I were also very impressed with the dedication and exceptional knowledge of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) crews of 12th SWS. We were particularly impressed with 1st Lt. Nick Baugh, who is our 12th SWS system expert for the Upgraded Early Warning Radar. 12th SWS is the third location to receive this upgrade, which greatly enhances our missile warning and space situational awareness missions.
The members of the 821st Security Forces Squadron and trainers proved that they are some of the best in the Air Force. The squadron is responsible for protection and security of the Thule Defense Area, which encompasses an area of 254 square miles. The skills and superior knowledge of these Airmen shined throughout our visit. Master Sgt. Chuck Denton and Airmen 1st Class Desmond Pearson and Jonathan Leszewski exemplified this fact.
While there, the Chief and I also ran 1.5 miles with the Airmen, "Thule style"--in an old hanger in about 30-degree temperature. Additionally, I was able to experience first-hand the power of the snow removal machine on Thule's weather-beaten flight line. These gigantic machines can move mounts of packed snow and ice with the ease of a knife through butter.
I also had the honor of recognizing the selfless dedication of Thule's leadership with the presentation of a Meritorious Service Medal to Colonel Tom Peppard, 821st ABG commander, and an Air Force Achievement Medal to Airman 1st Class Kale Geiswite of the 821st SFS. Their citations were recognized their superior performances, and were filled with examples of how they embody "Service Before Self".
On a more local note, this Wednesday Team Pete recognized and honored a great American, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, during a remembrance ceremony and luncheon. This event was a great success. I want to personally thank Colonel Gerald Curry, director of Security Forces for Headquarters Air Force Space Command, for volunteering to be our keynote speaker at this event. His words were an inspiration to us all. Also, many thanks to Staff Sgt. Tenea Basinger, her team and the Peterson Chapel staff, for helping us to remember, celebrate and act upon the legacy of this great man. Dr. King taught us that it is only through equal opportunity and dignity for all individuals, both Airmen and civilians, that America's Space Superiority Wing can accomplish the challenging missions.
This week Peterson was honored to host Major General K.C. McClain and Chief Master Sgt. Richard Kaiser, Air Force Personnel Center commander and command chief. They, along with other subject matter experts from AFPC, came here to meet and speak with Team Pete Airmen and civilians, and presented their "Spread the Word" briefing, which covered a variety of personnel related subjects including 365-day deployment options, the Global AEF tempo-banding system, civilian hiring procedures, and assignment processes. They challenged leaders to take seriously the Air Force priority of "Care for Airmen". The information General McClain and her team of professionals gave was invaluable to the development of our Airmen. Thanks to them for taking the time to come here and "Spread the Word".
Finally, we're looking forward to hosting Lieutenant General Larry James our new 14th Air Force Commander and Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, and his wife, Mrs. Susan James. They will be touring many of our base facilities, meeting our Airmen, and receiving some informational briefings. While here, Gen James will also share his vision on how missile warning, space control and installation support and protection fit into the 14th AF mission, and the effective prosecution of war. I know our team will impress General and Mrs. James with professionalism, dedication, and "crisp" attention to detail.
In these times of unpredictable weather conditions, I urge all members to drive and walk safely. Use Operational Risk Management in every situation keeping you and your wingman's safety in mind. Every one of you has an important role to this wing's success and our nation's safety. Have a great week and thanks for serving our great nation.