PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The 21st Space Wing has started a new Incentive Awards Program. This program aligns with Col. Todd Moore’s, 21st SW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Jacob Simmons’, 21st SW command chief, wing priority of developing and rewarding Airmen to add a measure of professional development and enrichment to the 21st SW awards program.
Each quarterly award winner will be afforded an experience to see how other organizations contribute to the space mission. This program takes a holistic approach to explore various perspectives through the lens of operational and support functions.
“This is the inaugural event that is sure to set the precedent for many years to come,” said Senior Master Sgt. Sharma Haynes, 21st Comptroller Squadron superintendent. “The third quarter award winners had the opportunity to experience the 21st Security Forces shoot house, where they had the chance to view demonstrations and participate in some hands-on training to see how our defenders support and defend the base at their home station and while deployed.”
Third quarter company grade officer award winner and 21st Medical Squadron medical operations flight commander at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Capt. Tyler Maxwell, was one of three Airmen to spend a day at the shoot house.
“Working with the defenders was a lot of fun,” said Maxwell. “They gave us a tour of the entire facility. I didn’t realize that there wasn’t a shooting range at Peterson and in order to train, they have to go to the U.S. Air Force Academy.”
The shoot house has multiple stations that can be used for training, including a firing range where Maxwell used paint balls as ammunition. He had to physically break down a door with a battering ram, while wearing night vision goggles and carrying a Beretta M9 to simulate clearing out a building. There were some target practice set-ups where he had to strategically move around while shooting at targets.
“All of this was set up to let me know what it was like to shoot under pressure,” said Maxwell.
For Maxwell, the next training exercise was the best. He was in a 360-degree virtual reality machine that had over 100 scenarios loaded in it. He got to experience two of them — the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado in 1999, and the mass shooting inside a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in 2012.
“They rebuild the scene for the machine,” said Maxwell. “As you’re going through it, you have an active shooter situation and depending on how you react to the situation, the scene changes.”
Maxwell said his biggest takeaway from the event was that you can get zoned into what you do daily at your job while not noticing what other Airmen do.
“A lot of people see 21st SFS patrolling around the base and people get the impression that that’s all they do,” said Maxwell. “We fail to see all of the other things they do, so it was great to work with them and learn more.”
Maxwell said getting to see everything they train for gave him an appreciation for the fact that not only is 21st SFS securing the base, but they are doing much more behind closed doors.
In the future, quarterly award winners will be afforded the opportunity to spend a day with another organization to learn what their job entails.