by Monica Mendoza
21st Space Wing
Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The LeMay evaluation team briefing Jan. 22 at The Club on Peterson was not an ordinary military briefing. There was singing, hollering and the manpower and personnel flight manager danced.
The 21st Space Wing’s Force Support Squadron is one of four finalists for the prestigious Cutis E. LeMay award which comes with a cash prize. The award, named for Gen. Curtis E. LeMay for his achievements in support and quality of life programs, is given annually for the quality and depth of customer service, employee motivation and training, quantity, quality and execution of programs, understanding of industry trends and overall facility appearance and equipment. The award goes to the best services organization at a base with at least 6,000 personnel.
The results of the visit will not be released until the end of February, but the 21st FSS, the wing and all of Peterson received high praise from the evaluators.
“I think we can say that our squadron was overwhelmed by the positive comments by the evaluation team,” said Dan Schofield, 21st FSS deputy director. “They identified many best practices and have indicated they will send Air Force-level experts back to Peterson to use our day-to-day management systems as a benchmark for all of the Air Force.”
The 21st FSS presented the wing’s service programs to the evaluation team under the theme, “We Are Family” and used the phrase to have a little fun during the briefing.
Col. Patrick Dunn, Headquarters Air Force Services Agency director of Services Operation Directorate, led the six-person evaluation team to closely examine 21st FSS programs and facilities throughout the weekend. The winning squadron will attend the FSS Worldwide Conference, in San Antonio.
More than 100 Airmen from across Peterson lined Peterson Boulevard Jan. 21 at the North Gate to welcome and cheer on the LeMay evaluation team. That evening, the 21st FSS hosted an ice-breaker and the next morning the team began a two-day, non-stop tour of the wing’s service programs.
“It’s really great to be here,” Colonel Dunn said. “Since the moment we got off the plane, the reception we have had has been phenomenal. The ‘We Are Family’ mantra really is alive here, you can tell.”
Members of the 21st FSS had an opportunity during the morning briefing to strut their stuff. Slide by slide, Capt. Nekitha Little, community services flight commander, and David Duke, manpower and personnel flight manager, told success stories of programs and services – record number of participants, new facilities and innovative programs – which added up to eight Air Force Best Practice Awards. They sang and danced too, and called each other, and other program leaders, “cousin,” “uncle,” and “brother,” to emphasize their family theme. By the end of the briefing, when Captain Little asked, “And what does that mean?” as she introduced each FSS program, audience members shouted in unison, “Best Practice.”
Col. Stephen N. Whiting, 21st Space Wing commander, described for the team the wing’s breadth of service programs, not to mention its geography. In detailing installation support, Colonel Whiting talked about the wing’s geographically separated units and how FSS serves Airmen as far away as Thule, Greenland.
“I do not know of any other wing in the United States Air Force that has the installation support responsibility as we do,” he said.
Colonel Whiting highlighted some wing quality of life programs, including the new position of the school liaison officer, who works with parents and school officials to resolve issues unique to military families. He mentioned improvements at the aquatics center, bowling center and the driving range at the golf course. The wing will break ground in March on an annex for the childcare development center, which will make room for 100 children, he told the team. And, the wing has the “very best honor guard programs in the United States Air Force,” he said.
“We are always proud to be nominated, proud to win awards and we recognize awards don’t sustain you forever,” Colonel Whiting said. “You have to be focused everyday on compliance, excellence and customer service. And, if you do those things awards will follow.”
The wing has a long list of awards including manpower earning the Professional Team award during the 2009 Headquarters Air Force Space Command inspector general operational readiness inspection. As if the record of achievements wasn’t enough, the 21st FSS broke into song to further woo the LeMay Team judges. Audience members sang along to the 1979 Sister Sledge favorite, “We are Family.”
Captain Little and Mr. Duke ended the presentation with a song parody of the theme song from the 1970s television show, “The Brady Bunch.” They had the crowd clapping and humming to the words, “that’s the way we became the Force Support.”
Colonel Dunn said his evaluation team was looking forward to the tour of the FSS programs. And, he promised that, “you will not lose any points for David Duke’s dancing.”