Commander Recaps Exciting Week

PETERSON AFB, Colo. -- As I reflect back over my first month of command, the one thing that stands out in my mind is the professionalism, competence, and mission focus of the military and civilian professionals that make up the 21st Space Wing. This Wing clearly has what it takes to make flawless mission performance our standard ... not our goal. 

During this past week, I toured the 721st Mission Support Group, presented a Bronze Star Medal, cut the ribbon for the Commissary Grand Opening, met with the fifth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, and hosted the Senior NCO Induction Ceremony. 

Last Tuesday, I met with the 721st Mission Support Group at Cheyenne Mountain. This group provides unsurpassed technical support, defense, and survivability for the 5.1 acre underground infrastructure. It was a great visit with much of the credit going to MSgt. Karen D. Stuart, 721st Communications Squadron, for planning and executing such a thorough walk through of the Mountain. 

As I entered the tunnel, I was met by Airman 1st Class Jason F. Khan of the 721st Security Forces Squadron. Airman Khan was crisp with a capital "C" and provided me the best post briefing I have had in my 23 years of service. This Airman left no doubt in my mind that he knows his job inside and out. 

Equally impressive was Staff Sgt. Erin E. Barfknecht in briefing me her responsibilities working in the Systems Center. Her job of managing and controlling missile warning, aerospace defense, and space surveillance communications and computer systems is undoubtedly one of the most responsibility-laden jobs any NCO can have--and she does it extremely well. 

On Wednesday I had the distinct honor of presenting the Bronze Star Medal to Capt. Kevin B. Lombardo. Captain Lombardo deployed for six months to Camp Bucca, Iraq, and was recognized for his outstanding service to the United States as the Theater Internment Facility Operations Center Battle Captain. 

His display of courage during combat operations following a detainee uprising was instrumental in preventing injury and loss of life to friendly forces. I am truly appreciative of the service he and all those deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom continue to provide under difficult circumstances. 

On Friday, opening this $19 million commissary was a huge milestone and signifies just how important serving the needs of our military and retiree community are to the Department of Defense. As I said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony, my sincere thanks goes out to those who took part in creating the vision, design, construction, and now operation of this world-class facility. The only thing more impressive than the facility is the customer service focus of our commissary staff, led by Mr. Bobby Mings. 

At the end of the week, Chief Omdal and I attended the Senior Noncommissioned Officer Induction Banquet. The guest speaker for the event was the fifth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Robert Gaylor. Earlier in the day I had an office call with Chief Gaylor. 

Let me share a couple of thoughts the Chief, who originally entered the Air Force in 1948, shared with me. Currently, he visits over 25 bases a year and is very impressed with what he sees in today's Air Force. He likes the fact that as an Air Force we listen to our Airmen and we trust our Airmen. 

Additionally, he shared a thought on authority that I wrote down in my leadership book. When you get promoted or get a new job, don't wait to be issued the authority to do something. There is plenty of authority out there waiting for you to take hold of and make things happen. 

That evening we recognized 46 new SNCOs for their hard work and dedication by formally inducting them into the SNCO ranks. Just take a moment to reflect on how big of an achievement it is to be among the top tier of your profession. These NCOs are no longer front line supervisors; their primary role in the Air Force is leading teams to accomplish the mission. 

To all our inductees, congratulations! Now go out and grab that authority that Chief Gaylor talked about ... our Air Force and your units need your leadership. 

Again, it was an incredible week and I thank everyone who played a part in these outstanding successes. I look forward to many more as the Team Peterson community continues to work together in answering our nation's call. I am very proud to be a 21st Space Wing Knight.