By Dave Smith
21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Col. Doug Schiess and Mrs. Debbie Schiess presented the inaugural 21st Space Wing Resiliency Award to Staff Sgt. Ryan Meston, 4th Space Control Squadron technician, and his family during the quarterly commander’s call Oct. 13.
The award is given to recognize resilience as a family, and Schiess said the Mestons are a true testimony to the word resiliency. The idea behind offering the recognition is sharing hope and letting others see how fellow Airmen, and their families, deal with difficult times.
In recent years, Meston was diagnosed with two types of cancer back-to-back, requiring many treatments, including experimental therapy out of state. The family was often separated for lengthy periods, sticking together when times got hard. He is now in remission.
“You don’t get to pick when bad things happen,” said Schiess. “[The Mestons] are a testimony to how you can come back. This family is a testament to what happens when you stay and work together.”
The commander’s call was the first for Chief Master Sgt. Mark Bronson, new 21st Space Wing command chief. Schiess said what set Bronson apart during the selection process was his broad leadership experience, including his position as a wing-level command chief at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina. Bronson has been part of the 21st Medical Group before, too.
“We had incredible folks to look at,” Schiess said. “I knew in the first few minutes of meeting him, Chief Bronson was the right one.”
Bronson said he is humbled and excited to be back where he cut his teeth as a senior NCO.
“There are no more promotions for me,” said Bronson. “I work for you. Col. Schiess gives me direction, but I work directly for you.”
He shared the four things that define him: faith, family, fitness and fun. Where faith is concerned, Bronson said God has truly blessed him. He said he also serves for family, both his blood family and his Air Force family. Fitness is important and he loves sports, especially golf. Fun is also important to Bronson, because he used to take himself too seriously. Airmen should have fun doing what they do each day.
“There is something about the air of excitement this wing brings,” said Bronson. “It was palpable when I left and it was palpable when I got back.”
Schiess addressed the capstone inspection coming up for the wing in March. He said being mission ready is being inspection ready. He reminded 21st SW Knights that they are being inspected at all times.
“We should be inspection ready every day,” said Schiess. “We can do this job, we just need to prove it to the inspectors.”
Winter will soon be in full swing and Schiess took time to address base closure procedures and safe winter driving. He explained how, on days when inclement weather is a potential issue, he is up very early working with Peterson Air Force Base leaders weighing what is actually taking place, as well as what other local entities and bases are doing.
Base leaders consider which jobs are mission essential, who must report to work at the regular time. Non-mission-essential personnel report no earlier than the specified times to allow the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron to clear the roads and parking lots.
Schiess said individual safety is the highest concern when deciding closures or delays. He recommended signing up for PAFB alerts to keep up on weather issues via text message. Simply text “follow PAFBAlert” to 40404 to sign up. Closures and delayed starts are posted to the 21st Space Wing Facebook page and broadcasted by local TV and radio outlets as well. A snow call line is available at 719-556-SNOW (7669).
In the end, personal safety is most important, and communication with individual leadership is key to handling severe weather situations properly. Master Sgt. John Skelton, 21st SW Safety Office superintendent, shared the acronym SPACE to help practice sound winter driving practices. The acronym stands for Speed, the top cause of winter driving accidents; Patience; Awareness of other vehicles and the environment; Concentration; and Exit, meaning always leave yourself a way out.
Gail Whalen, installation voting assistance officer, reminded Airmen to participate in the upcoming general elections by voting. With less than a month before the election she said there are resources that can help make sure ballots are in on time. For help with absentee ballots, or other voting questions, contact unit voting officers. Whalen is also available to help and can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 719-556-5543.