Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

Peterson Space Observer

21st Airman grabs top space award

(U.S. Air Force photo/Steve Brady)  PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Staff Sgt. Jonathan Middleton, 76th Space Control Squadron operator, credits teamwork and the confidence of his peers as major factors of him receiving the Enlisted Space Systems Operator of the Year Award, Airman category.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Steve Brady)
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Staff Sgt. Jonathan Middleton, 76th Space Control Squadron operator, credits teamwork and the confidence of his peers as major factors of him receiving the Enlisted Space Systems Operator of the Year Award, Airman category.

By Michael Golembesky

21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — It is an honor to be recognized for hard work and dedication, but to rise to the top of your career field is truly an achievement.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Middleton, 76th Space Control Squadron space control operator has done just that, receiving the Enlisted Space Systems Operator of the Year Award for the Airman category. Middleton was formerly a space warning instructor.

“I cannot take sole credit for any of this. I did not achieve what I did on my own; I needed the support and trust of my supervisors,” Middleton said.

The award is quite an achievement considering many have no idea what space operators do because of the nature of their work and the classification of the mission.

“Staff Sgt. Middleton’s recognition as the Enlisted Space Operator of the Year is not only a reflection of his superior performance but also a reflection of the outstanding operators we have across the 21st Operations Group,” said Col. David Miller, 21st Operations Group commander.

From his hometown of Bristol, Conn., Middleton spent the majority of his first four years in the Air Force stationed at the 6th Space Warning Squadron, Cape Cod Air Force Station, Mass.

“I have worked on some big projects during my time at Cape Cod,” Middleton said. “I helped with the manning reduction of the missile warning units. We had to retrain an entire crew-force to operate with a smaller crew, changing the way we do something, and authored the entire training program for it.”

In May, Middleton was assigned to the 76th SPCS where he faced new challenges and met them with confidence and resiliency.

“The workflow and pace here is a lot different as compared to missile warning,” said Middleton. “I am really enjoying it here, but I miss the seafood.”

Middleton credits much of his success to his fellow teammates and supervisors for the leadership and knowledge they have provided him over the years.

“Teamwork is critical in effectively succeeding at the mission. You need to be able to identify what your weaknesses are so that you can play more to your strengths,” Middleton said. “Everyone has a part; everyone is just as important as the next guy.”

Although Middleton would prefer to shy away from the limelight, he has earned the respect and gratitude of his fellow Airmen.

“Whether our Airmen are conducting strategic missile warning and defense, space surveillance or space control missions they never cease to amaze me with just how much they are committed to mission excellence,” Miller said. “My hat is off to Staff Sgt. Middleton for being recognized with this truly prestigious award, and hats off to the many peers, supervisors, subordinates and families who have continued to support the outstanding men and women in the 21st Operations Group.”

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