PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Knights, 32 years ago when I started my military career at as a freshman at Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets, my goal was to graduate and receive a commission in the United States Air Force. A stretch goal was promotion to captain. The honor of serving as the vice wing commander of the 21st Space Wing was beyond consideration. When I was selected for this dream assignment, I was concerned that it surely couldn’t be as exceptional as I imagined. Now, after three years in the seat, I can say that this assignment has been everything I imagined and more. It has unequivocally been the highlight of my career because of the great Airmen I have been honored to serve.
The mission of 21st is no small task. I am in awe watching each of you across different units, different demographics (enlisted, officer, civilian and spouses) and different ranks tackle our missions with determination and unwavering dedication. From the men and women stationed at geographically separated units to the sentry watching over Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station keeping America’s Fortress secure, you have all lived up to our core values and Airmen’s Creed.
I am a firm believer that character is best demonstrated during tough times and the members of the wing have consistently demonstrated the highest level of character when it mattered most. Together, you have responded to very public and challenging times and delivered miracles in a million private ways to make profound differences.
Thunderbird crash — If the Inspector General had contrived an exercise that included the majority of wing leadership being off-station, the President of the United States, the SECAF and the CSAF heading to base for a departure and a Thunderbird falling short of the runway, I would have cried foul as it is completely unrealistic. But sure enough, it happened and the 21st sprang into action as if it had practice this exact scenario for months.
The 100-year hailstorm — Almost everyone lost something during the storm but rather than become absorbed in self-pity, I watched Team Pete help each other tarp vehicles with broken out windows, help board up windows on buildings and clean up the base. We were able to get back to normal long before many expected we could.
Staff Sgt. Austin Bieren — Watching the outpour of response for the loss of a deployed brother-in-arms was humbling. Airmen from across the wing jumped in to take care of his family, hundreds lined the street for the dignified transfer, and attendance at the memorial service all demonstrated the fact that we are indeed family.
Daily Wingman — Junior Airmen of this wing have routinely exemplified the wingman ethos in many ways but none more impactful than executing diving saves on behalf of a fellow Airman in crisis and considering suicide…not once but multiple times.
Developing Community — The spouses provided countless volunteer hours to build a sense of community through quiet support. They have prepared meals for those with newborns or illness, bolstered each other against the difficulties of military life through the key spouse program, kept the thrift store running, and supported many other organizations like Protestant Women of the Chapel and Just Among Military Moms.
As I embark on what will most likely be my last assignment as the Virginia Tech Reserve Officer Training Corps Det commander, I will fondly look at my time here at the 21st Space Wing. I take my charge from the examples of leadership and teamwork you have set. I intend to shape the next generation of Airmen that share your moral courage. To embrace the challenges of the day and put forth the dedication to see a challenge through. In short, I strive to develop Airmen that are worthy of serving with you. You have set the bar high and it has been my distinct honor to serve with you.
Now, my charge to you. Keep the faith with the American people. Continue to create innovative ways to secure the nation with which we have been entrusted. Continue to take care of each other. Every Airman is someone’s son or daughter, mother or father, sister or brother on loan to us. They deserve the best we have to offer. Lead them well.
With Utmost Respect,
Col. Eric Dorminey
Vice Commander, 21st Space Wing