By Senior Airman Rose Gudex
21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — According to an Airman from Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, the underground tunnels and subway system designed specifically for those working on Capitol Hill remind him of the different halls and buildings inside America’s Fortress.
Senior Airman Christian Mejia, 721st Security Forces Squadron unit training manager, recently visited Washington D.C. with wing leadership, Col. Doug Schiess, 21st Space Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Idalia Peele, 21st SW command chief, Oct. 7-8.
Mejia was selected because of his dedication to making sure his peers are up to date on training while also exemplifying excellence. He also recently aced the Pre-Ranger Assessment Course in July, finishing first amongst the participants.
Part of the trip included time for Mejia to discuss what he does as a defender and his role in making the mission happen.
“My priority focuses on ensuring all the security forces defenders are up to date on all their weapons and qualifications for duty positions,” Mejia said. “Anything they need goes through our section. We have to make sure they’re up to date so they can actually defend the base and work their positions.”
The mission at Cheyenne Mountain and the North American Aerospace Defense Command is integral to homeland defense, so Mejia also explained how his team ensures the safety of the base and allows the mission to happen on a day-to-day basis.
Since the 21st SW has such a large number of geographically separated units working toward the same mission, both nationally and globally, Mejia, Schiess and Peele met with a variety of congressional representatives and senators from around the country to discuss the mission and several important topics.
A few of those topics included the cost of maintenance on 45-year-old space radars essential to the wing’s mission, dual basic allowance for housing of military couples and the continuing resolution putting strains on how effectively the mission is completed.
“It felt good knowing our leadership is pushing for things we need,” Mejia said. “It was great seeing both our leaders, Col. Schiess and Chief Peele, expressing different issues we have. … They make a great team.”
With all the people they met and topics discussed, he said the highlight of the jam-packed Capitol Hill visit was meeting the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. But he didn’t just meet her. He was coined and recognized in her speech at the Congressional Space Power Caucus breakfast for his extensive effort in supporting the mission at Cheyenne Mountain.
In addition to all that excitement, Mejia said the experience of seeing Air Force senior leaders in action was exhilarating. It was very fast paced and he said every minute of down time was spent preparing for the next meeting or event.
After seeing the political, decision making side of the Air Force, Mejia ended his first ever trip to Washington D.C. on a high note with a nighttime tour of a few national monuments before heading back to Colorado.
Taking it all in, the whole experience from political decision making to the underground tunnels at Capitol Hill to a little bit of sight-seeing, Mejia said he couldn’t name just one thing that was his favorite part.
The experience gave him insight to part of the Air Force most junior enlisted don’t see, which he can take back to his fellow defenders to continue pursuing and fostering excellence.