Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

A night to remember

(U.S. Air Force photo/Craig Denton)
Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of United States Strategic Command and sixth commander of the 21st Space Wing, shares memories during his 21st SW anniversary dinner speech May 17. The 21st SW celebrated 21 years of history with many events during the week of May 13-17, culminating with the dinner at The Club.

By 1st Lt. Stacy Glaus

21st Space Wing Public Affairs

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The night of May 17 was not an ordinary Friday night at Peterson Air Force Base.

The Club was filled with members from across the Wing, dressed to the nines. Guidon flags blanketed the walls, current and former 21st Space Wing commanders and distinguished visitors filled the room and the Air Force Academy Band of the Rockies played in the background.

This night was indeed not an ordinary night, it was a remarkable night.

The night marked the 21st anniversary of the 21st Space Wing.

The featured speaker during the event was Gen. C. Robert Kehler, commander of United States Strategic Command, and the sixth wing commander of the 21st SW. Kehler spoke about his experiences in the wing as well as how the wing’s mission is extremely important in today’s operating environment.

One of his most impactful memories he shared during the event revolved around his time as wing commander during the events of 9/11.

Kehler and the 21st SW were in the middle of an Operational Readiness Inspection when they watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center. Immediately he knew his operating environment was about to change.

“Watching this transition from peacetime to wartime over the period of 30 minutes was, I think, the most professionally rewarding thing that has ever happened to me,” said Kehler. “You practice, and you train, and you exercise and you wonder if that FPCON Delta stuff that you are suppose to do would ever really work if you had to do it, and then you watch your people do it.”

This message hit home for the audience of current 21st SW members, as they prepare for their upcoming Unit Compliance Inspection in June.

“You wonder sometimes, with all the practice and the training, all the things that we do to make sure that our wings are really combat ready, make us combat ready,” said Kehler. “And I can tell you, and those of you who were around when we watched that happen, that there’s no doubt in my mind, that when we practice and we train and we exercise that we are, in fact, combat ready.”

Kehler also gave a reminder of the important mission happening within the 21st SW every day.

“Sometimes, we wonder if what we’re doing makes a difference. And we wonder sometimes if anybody else knows what we are doing,” Kehler added. “What you do is critical to our nation’s security and what you do is important for our future because this is a very complicated and uncertain world that we live in today.”

While laughs and jokes were shared throughout the evening, there was an underlying theme for the event — pride.

“There’s a long heritage here associated with all of you and what you do,” said Kehler. “I couldn’t be prouder to have served with you. I couldn’t be prouder to be counted among the members of the 21st Space Wing. I couldn’t be prouder of the jobs that you do for our country today.”

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