Amazing events of last week

PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- Looking back over the past week, it was undoubtedly my busiest week yet as commander of the 21st Space Wing.

On Sept. 20, Peterson hosted the JFCC Space and 14th Air Force commander's conference at the Leadership Development Center. In addition, we had the honor of hosting the 76th Space Control Squadron heritage ceremony as the Flying Tiger lineage was formally transferred to the 76th Fighter Squadron at Moody AFB, Ga. As mentioned in last week's article, the entire week was filled with a series of POW/MIA events, culminating with the Remembrance Day ceremony Sept. 21. To top it all off, we celebrated the Air Force's 60th anniversary with a spectacular "Birthday Bash" event at The Club that same night.

The JFCC Space and 14th Air Force commander's conference was a huge success thanks, in part, to the outstanding planning and preparation that took place over the past two months by members of the 21st Space Wing team. I received lots of comments from many of the conference participants regarding how great the base looked and the superb base support they had received.

My thanks to each and every one of you who played a part in making such a great impression. I'd especially like to thank Capt. Erin Hancock, 721st Mission Support Group, for the part she played in planning and organizing the myriad activities that went into the conference. There were a lot of moving parts leading up to and during the actual event and she was instrumental in making sure everything went off without a hitch. 

As part of the Air Force's 60th anniversary "Heritage to Horizons" theme, the Air Force decided to reunite the 74th, 75th, and 76th fighter squadrons at Moody AFB. On Sept. 21, we conducted a ceremony to formally transfer that lineage back to the new 76th Fighter Squadron. Since its inception in 1995 as the 76th Space Operations Squadron, the men and women of the 76th SPCS have taken great care of the Flying Tiger lineage and have proudly carried on the tradition of excellence and innovative spirit that were the hallmarks of that historic group.

Since the Air Force made the decision to reunite the 74th, 75th, and 76th Fighter Squadrons at Moody AFB with the legacy of the Flying Tigers, the professionals of the 76 SPCS immediately provided their support. Now it is time for the new 76th Space Control Squadron "Lobos" to look to the horizons ... developing a new lineage while never forgetting the heritage from which they came.

That same afternoon, Peterson concluded POW/MIA week with a remembrance ceremony at the base chapel. Mr. Ed Beck, a former POW during World War II who managed to successfully escape from his German captors, delivered some truly inspiring remarks as he recounted how he was captured and the fact that he never gave up hope despite the challenges he and his fellow Americans faced.

Mr. Beck is a true American hero and we can never thank him enough for his 27-plus years of military service. It goes without saying that this event would not have been possible without the support of many people. There were dozens of support personnel who assisted with everything from set-up, invitations and parking all the way to the reception and escort for all of the honored guests. There were also hundreds of individuals who participated in the 24-hour POW/MIA run. Again, my personal thanks to all those who contributed to making this event so successful.

The capstone event of the week occurred with the Air Force's 60th anniversary celebration at The Club. Those attending the event had the opportunity to reflect on the great achievements the Air Force has accomplished since its inception as a separate service in 1947. Since that time, pioneers of the Air Force--like Billy Mitchell, Hap Arnold, Curtis LeMay, and Bernard Schriever to name just a few--have been the driving force behind the continued capability and lethality that we possess today.

Enlisted leaders like Chief Master Sgt. Paul Airey, Airman 1st Class John Levitow, and Airman 1st Class William Pitsenbarger have also shaped our heritage with their vital contributions.

One of the key things I came away from after spending a night paying tribute to our storied history is to never forget where we came from. Without knowing the past, we can never look to the future.

Again, what an exciting week this past week turned out to be. Thanks again for all those who played a part in making all of these events so successful.