By by Jennifer Thibault | Joint Task Force-Space Defense
SCHRIEVER SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. — The National Defense Industrial Association Rocky Mountain Chapter recognized one of Joint Task Force-Space Defense’s own during its 38th Rocky Mountain Ball Aug. 20, 2021 at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
U.S. Space Command nominated Ohio native Capt. Robert Heffner, JTF-SD Current Plans Branch lead mission planner and National Reconnaissance Office liaison officer, for the NDIA chapter’s Patriot Award, that honors service members “who have demonstrated a profound and abiding love of country and whose inspirational leadership, actions and selfless dedication symbolize our nation’s ideals, values and founding principles.”
Heffner’s nomination included notable accomplishments such as leading and overseeing the successful development of numerous Joint Operations orders and satisfying multiple operational requirements to enable successful multi-domain operations. He also supervised multiple joint Combatant Command operations and was instrumental in developing new tactics, techniques and procedures that resulted in space operations efficiencies. Additionally, Heffner developed a suicide prevention toolkit and volunteered at the Springs Rescue Mission homeless shelter enhancing the quality of life of at least 19 families.
“You are a superstar, who clearly loves America and has performed above and beyond the call of duty,” said Joseph Kahoe, NDIA Rocky Mountain Chapter vice president for awards, in a letter to Heffner announcing his selection.
“I have never won anything like this before, it is overwhelming and an unexpected surprise,” said Heffner, who always had a strong drive to serve and whose family has served across the services some dating back to the Army Air Corps. “I feel honored and humbled, especially based on those who’ve received the award in the past.”
Heffner has been with the JTF-SD for about eight months, hailing from the NRO. With this background he is focused on improving the organization’s integration for planning with the NRO.
“That’s part of why I was selected for this position,” said Heffner. “I look forward to integrating the joint planning process between the two organizations to improve our protect and defend strategy.”
In the short time he’s been here, Heffner’s efforts led to the nomination for this award in addition to earning the U.S. Space Command’s Company Grade Officer of the Quarter award for the second quarter.
“Heffner has a great knowledge and understanding of the larger picture and his role in it,” said Lt. Col. Charles “Davie” Cook, supervisor and Director of Operations for the NRO Element at the National Space Defense Center. “He thinks operationally and strategically and that is rare at his rank but much needed in our operations here.”
Cook, Heffner and his wife, Jessica, attended the awards event highlighting both professional performance and community involvement.
“He helped in the community, focused on people in need and he’s outstanding at his job,” said Cook. “Heffner is an easy candidate for people to advance and that is saying a lot because we have a lot of superior performers in our organization.”
Heffner said it’s his teammates who enable his performance.
“My favorite part of this job is the people I work with,” he said. “I enjoy coming to work every day because of the people I work with. I am proud to serve with everyone at the NRO, NSDC and 1 SOPS. My team and my wife always inspire me to strive to do my best.”
Heffner was joined by five additional military award winners stationed in the Colorado Springs area representing the Air Force Academy, Space and Missile Defense Command, United States Space Force, NORAD/NORTHCOM and Fort Carson.
Heffner is stationed at Schriever Space Force Base and his operations support the JTF-SD’s mission to, in unified action with mission partners, deter aggression, defend capabilities and defeat adversaries throughout the continuum of conflict.