By Marcus Hill | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Airmen in the 1st Space Operations Squadron haven’t let COVID-19 disrupt morale and camaraderie as they seek new methods to bond.
They created Airman Life Groups, a group where Airmen connect outside the office via Zoom to discuss non-work related topics. The ALGs allow Airmen to remain engaged with each other and discuss topics such as knitting, coffee brewing methods, cooking, baking and photography once a week.
Airmen also have a weekly ‘lunch and learn’ meeting where they discuss current events and learn about their Wingmen.
They cover a variety of topics including current events, space- or professional-development related topics and their work. On April 3, retired Col. Jack Fischer, former 50th Space Wing vice commander, spoke about his time with the International Space Station and about resiliency.
Meetings previously occurred face-to-face but due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, they now take place via Zoom.
“We recognized that we had to engage the team and talk to each other and be there for each other,” said Capt. Patrick Boyle, 1st SOPS chief of operations training. “It’s one thing to reach out and say, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ It’s a whole other to take time to talk and be together virtually.”
Boyle also got retired Col. Jack Anthony, former 1st SOPS commander, to speak to Airmen during a lunch and learn.
Anthony planned to speak to Schriever Air Force Base late March-early April but COVID-19 canceled that presentation. Rather than scrap those efforts, Boyle reached out to salvage the event.
“I wanted to see if Mr. Anthony wanted to speak about Jack Swigert – the namesake of Bldg. 400 – and he agreed to it,” Boyle said. “We put together the slides and presentation and he talked about Jack Swigert and how he was portrayed in the Apollo 13 movie.”
Anthony also spoke to Airmen’s spouses and children in a separate event to provide information about the Space Force during a virtual presentation April 11.
After Molly Raymond, spouse of U.S. Space Command commander and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John Raymond, received messages on Facebook asking if Anthony could speak to kids about the Apollo 13 mission, they coordinated to set up the meeting.
“Mr. Anthony and I showed up and he had a range of questions from spouses and kids,” he said. “The kids were interested in Swigert and how a sibling who’s interested can join the Space Force. It was an interesting conversation and great to see kids and spouses who know about the space community. This was a great way to bond.”
When they’re not bonding through lunch and learn, 1st SOPS Airmen connect through their respective ALGs, which existed prior to COVID-19 but added additional groups since moving to telework.
Capt. Andrew Marin, 1st SOPS assistant director of operations, hoped to offer avenues for single Airmen or those without families to engage with their co-workers who have varying work schedules. It also helps meet the Air Force’s four pillars of health: spiritual, mental, social and physical.
“It’s a no-brainer to keep [ALGs] going,” Marin said. “This is to keep [Airmen] socially engaged. This goes back to taking care of our Airmen and those four pillars of health. It’s not leadership saying we should do such-and-such. This was 1 SOPS members taking care of other 1 SOPS members. Even with the constraints that we have, we’ve been able to take care of our people.”