By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
In April, the 50th Space Wing Public Affairs office held a Geocaching Schriever Campaign that would leave one lucky person as the new honorary wing commander for a day.
The rules of the campaign were simple. Each day coordinates were placed on the 50th Space Wing’s Facebook page and participants would flock to the locations, often highlighting different services on base, hoping to be the first to find and claim the prize.
Each cache located also gave participants one chance to be considered for the grand prize.
On May 1, Col. Bill Rittershaus, 50 SW vice commander, announced Tech. Sgt. Shale Norwitz from the 22nd Space Operations Squadron as the winner after drawing his name from the many participants throughout the month.
Norwitz, an avid geocacher had been drawn to the idea since its announcement, often being first to find the cache in what repeatedly ended up being a race between him and several members of 2 SOPS, who operate and maintain the GPS satellites essential to making geocaching possible.
“Geocaching Schriever, although a deviation from traditional geocaching, was very well done and brought to light a hobby that Schriever makes possible,” said Nortwitz. “I think the fact that much of the general public doesn’t know that GPS comes from Schriever is a tribute to GPS’s overall success. There is no other service in the world that has the most customers and the least amount of complaints.”
Norwitz’s first and last day of command took place May 29. In preparation, he walked in to the barbershop the day prior to get his hair cut identical to Col. James Ross, the 50 SW commander.
“I like to attack things on multiple dimensions. I thought it was a subtle thing that maybe somebody might notice,” said Norwitz. “Colonel Ross is definitely a genuinely good person and strong leader. If I was going to even jokingly succeed him, I figured that there was no reason that I couldn’t also try to emulate him.”
One of Norwitz’s first acts was designating each of the squadron commander parking spots to the lowest ranking Airmen in each of the respective squadrons.
“The bedrock of this installation, the bedrock of the Air Force and every mission that gets completed is the Airmen,” said Norwitz in a serious tone. “When you are an Airman, you have no idea that the Air Force really is on your shoulders.”
The parking spots were an easy way that, even on his prized day, Norwitz could say thank you.
Even a joke lined up to have his own commander, Lt. Col. Scott Angerman, 22 SOPS commander, serve him cookies in the wing commander’s office turned out to be for a cause other than himself. The cookies were delivered by Norwitz to another group of individuals, the shift workers he considered to be unsung heroes in the communications squadron.
During his 24 hours as honorary commander for a day, Norwitz didn’t remain completely serious; he also utilized his time to mount a small campaign for the prairie dogs that populate much of Schriever’s open space.
“At a bare minimum, if we were able to educate people on the plight of the prairie dog, then we will have succeeded to some degree,” said Norwitz with a satirical presence. “I know that Colonel Ross has a long drive home every day, during which I hope he has time to reflect on this small but very important percent of our Schriever inhabitors now that he has ‘resumed’ command. Long after everyone has left Schriever and gone home and is enjoying a macaroni and cheese dinner and watching television, the prairie dogs have to stay here. They live here 24/7.”
Finishing off his 15 minutes of fame, Norwitz decided to put together a kickball game pitting commanders against enlisted for the purpose of morale and physical training.
With both Col. Jonathan Sutherland, 50th Network Operations Group commander, and Lt. Col. Mike Manor, 1 SOPS commander, posing a threat to the team headed up by Norwitz, the enlisted members secured their win after nearly three times the innings played in a regulation game.
“The commanders came on strong, but we did have a good show of force on the enlisted side,” said Norwitz with a grin. “Colonel Sutherland was throwing some dirty pitches. I think there was a little extra bounce where there didn’t need to be bounce.”
Keep an eye on the 50 SW Facebook page for quarterly campaigns like Geocaching Schriever, news and other chances to get involved.