21st SW hosts Guardian Challenge

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- This week, the 21st Space Wing hosts the formal portion of Guardian Challenge 2008 as teams and representatives from across Air Force Space Command join together May 8 at the base auditorium for the opening ceremonies. Guardian Challenge competitors from each of the command's seven space wings have already competed in a number of areas to determine who will be named "best of the best" in their particular specialty and now it is up to the Numbered Air Force evaluators to determine the winners. I know everyone is anxiously awaiting the results as well as the accompanying festivities that will take place later in the week. On behalf of the wing, I'd like to welcome all of those individuals who have traveled near and far to attend the ceremonies and also wish everyone the best of luck with the final results. 

Although I'm sure each wing in AFSPC feels they are the favorites to take home the Guardian Challenge hardware, it will certainly be a tough task to out-do the 'Knights' of the 21st SW. Even though I may be slightly biased, anyone who saw our joint 21st/721st Security Forces Squadron team compete at the base track last week knows they will be tough to beat. With almost 200 members of the wing gathered around the track cheering them on, four members of our joint team showed their mettle and determination by running three miles in full gear and completing various station tasks while being timed and evaluated by 14th AF judges. 

It was truly inspiring to see the teamwork displayed by these four individuals: Tech. Sgt. Cesar Ochoa, Staff Sgts. Jordan Freeman and Brian Marshall and Airman Stacy John. Whether it was pacing one another so the group could finish together or taking turns holding onto a team member's weapon during the run, their display of teamwork was one of the best I've witnessed. With the "home field advantage" and the wing cheering them on as they did, I'm certain their overall run time was much better than it would have been if nobody had been there to encourage them. Our 21st SW Knight mascot, Staff Sgt. Micky Sederburg, also known as "Iron Mike," was instrumental in getting the crowd fired up by leading the wing in supporting the competitors. Sergeant Sederburg has done a terrific job throughout the Guardian Challenge competition and personally demonstrates what unit pride and team spirit are all about. 

Another event where the 21st SW Guardian Challenge team shined was at the tactics competition held on the U.S. Air Force Academy at Jacks Valley Training Center. The four team members from the fitness run/station challenge event competed in a simulated scenario where two enemy aggressors ambushed our Guardian Challenge team as they attempted to secure an enemy compound. 

Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Turner and Senior Airman Eric Frias, wing security forces members acting as GC alternates during the scenario, had a lot to do with the team's preparation and overall success since they were there every step of the way leading up to the event. Again, many folks from the wing made the drive to the Academy to show their support for our team and, just like the previous day's event, it made all the difference in the world to our competitors. I'm really proud of the support we showed our Guardian Challenge team and even more proud of the professional and expert way the GC team handled the scenario. 

Our security forces team was not the only ones to excel in the Guardian Challenge competition. Our 21st Space Communication Squadron technical controllers, Senior Airmen Jack Needham and Jeremiah Toney, previously displayed their talents in competition against other AFSPC communication squadrons. I took the opportunity to pay them a visit just prior to their event to see them in action. I'm confident they displayed the "right stuff" and will have an excellent chance at taking home the top prize. 

In the final category where 21st SW personnel participated in Guardian Challenge, 1st Lt. Lauren Hardy, Staff Sgt. Justin Phelps and Airman 1st Class Randy Foster performed magnificently in the missile warning and space surveillance competition. Having already won the in-house competition with our other 21st SW missile warning units, they have shown themselves to be up to the challenge of competing with the other top operations crews from across AFSPC. With their solid record of providing flawless missile warning and space control operations, I anticipate a strong showing from them in the overall competition. 

Another unit competing in this year's Guardian Challenge is Royal Air Force Fylingdales from the United Kingdom. Although not officially part of the 21st SW, the ground-based radar at Fylingdales performs the same function as our other missile warning sites by providing missile warning, attack assessment and space situational awareness in support of allied interests. An operations crew from the unit, after winning their own competition back in England, is in the running for the Guardian Challenge "Best Operators" trophy and will have their team in attendance at the awards ceremony. 

As you can see by the above descriptions of our Guardian Challenge team, it will be a difficult task to wrestle the Aldridge Trophy away from the 21st SW and we look forward to keeping the trophy for another two years. Whatever the results, I know everyone is proud to have competed at such a high level and it will be very interesting to see the final results at the awards ceremony. GO KNIGHTS!