EOD team, other agencies make valuable contributions

PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- Last week, the 21st Space Wing command chief master sergeant, Tim Omdal, and I had the opportunity to visit with the wing's Explosive Ordinance Disposal team. As a part of the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, this group of professionals plays an integral part in successfully executing two main pillars of the overall wing mission - providing unsurpassed installation support and protection, while developing and deploying Warrior Airmen to defend America and our Allies.

We were extremely impressed with this team's razor-sharp expertise and outstanding record of performance, not only on the home front but also with their downrange support in the Global War on Terror. In their last deployment alone, our EOD team flawlessly performed a total of 240 combat missions. As many of you already know, they are a unique group that brings a distinct anti-terrorism and force protection component to the joint fight.

After being taken through an EOD operational capabilities tour, I can tell you that we are extremely lucky to have such a dedicated group of individuals in our wing. Their demonstration and detonation of a water bottle charge used to ultimately disarm an enemy explosive device during a mock exercise was very impressive.

What's even more impressive is what our EOD team is able to accomplish with only nine members. Tech. Sgt. Greg Niles, Staff Sgt. Mesa Anderson, Senior Airman Tyson Johnson, Senior Airman Joshua Rupp, Senior Airman Grant Schneider and Mr. Tim Hawkins are currently here at Peterson, while the three other members of the team are deployed. Once again, my hat is off to these individuals - they are doing an incredible job and deserve the utmost thanks and respect for what they do day-in and day-out.

Another area of interest I want to pass on to you is that Operation Warm Heart is gearing up for the upcoming holiday season. A program with an "Airmen helping Airmen" philosophy, its primary purpose is to provide emergency monetary assistance to Department of Defense personnel and their family members when other assistance agencies are unable to respond.

However; another important component of Operation Warm Heart is what they contribute to families during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Essentially, volunteer efforts and donated contributions go towards providing Thanksgiving food baskets and holiday meal vouchers to those in need. Thanks to the generous contributions from non-profit organizations, including the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, and other individuals and agencies throughout the local community, Operation Warm Heart is able to go the extra mile to ensure our people our taken care of.

My thanks to the entire Operation Warm Heart Executive Council, including 21st Space Wing members Master Sgt. Andrew Holland (president), Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Pavlick (Peterson vice president), and Master Sgt. Troy Tallabas (treasurer). The efforts of these individuals in support of Operation Warm Heart, not only during the holiday season but throughout the year, make an immeasurable impact on the community in which we live. If you are interested in making a donation or think someone might be in need of Operation Warm Heart's services, please contact your first sergeant.

Speaking of the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo, it was my pleasure to attend last week's check presentation ceremony in which part of the proceeds from last July's rodeo were donated to the 21st Space Wing. Not only did the 21st Space Wing receive a generous donation, but other military agencies in the surrounding community received money as well.

All of the donations will be split among several military charities on the installation. We all owe a debt of gratitude to the Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo board of directors for their faithful support each year of the military community in Colorado Springs. I know the funds, just like the contributions of Operation Warm Heart, will be put to good use as we move closer to the holiday season.