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2016: Another year of excellence for Patrick's 45th Space Wing
by Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith , 45th Space Wing Commander
Patrick AFB FL (SPX) Jan 25, 2017

The U.S. Air Force's 45th Space Wing supported the successful SpaceX Falcon 9 ABS/Eutelsat-2 launch June 15, 2016, at 10:29 a.m. ET from Launch Complex 40 Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. A combined team of military, government civilians and contractors from across the 45th Space Wing supported the mission with weather forecasts, launch and range operations, security, safety and public affairs. The wing also provided its vast network of radar, telemetry and communications instrumentation to facilitate a safe launch on the Eastern Range. Image courtesy SpaceX. For a larger version of this image please go here.

The 45th Space Wing's performance throughout 2016 can be summed up in one word "amazing!" Supporting 23 launches, returning to operations 2 days, 13 hours and 43 minutes after Hurricane Matthew pelted our bases and ensuring the safety of the Eastern Range during a static fire anomaly are just a of the few milestones we achieved. We could not have done any of this without the dedication of the men and women of the 45th Space Wing.

Our year started similar to previous years - ensuring the safety of the Eastern Range and delivering assured access to space. We launched the twelfth and final GPS IIF satellite, supported the second successful SpaceX flyback mission and launched a rocket from an aircraft for the first time in over 13 years.

We launched at a higher operations tempo this year and knew we needed to continue to develop our skills and adapt as an organization in order to continue launching at even greater rates in the future with even fewer resources. We honed our processes to work quicker and more efficiently, which proved integral in the second half of our year.

On Sept. 1, a static fire anomaly had the potential to disrupt our operations. The emergency response effort combined with the flawless execution of our processes and procedures guaranteed no one was injured. Not only were we able to manage, assist and provide support, but we were also able to transition to ensuring the Range was fully operational less than one week later.

Shortly thereafter, we proved again we could handle challenges with speed and class. A Category IV hurricane forced us to close our bases in order to maintain the safety of our Airmen. As the winds of Hurricane Matthew subsided, long days and limited services followed. But our wing members proved once again that they are the best at what they do. Together, we were able to open our base and resume operations less than 40 hours after Hurricane Matthew hit the Space Coast.

This year, we not only improved our processes, but we also invested in developing each other. One of our own was the single selection for Air Force Space Command's Senior Leader Enlisted Commissioning Program - Officer Training School. We had two of three AFSPC Tech. Sgt. Stripes for Exceptional Performers promotions. In addition, 2016 brought the 45th Space Wing's consecutive selection and second member to join the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

Organizationally, we took home multiple Air Force and Major Command level awards. The 45th Space Wing garnered one Air Force individual award, 22 AFSPC individual awards and 8 AFSPC team awards for 2016. We also celebrated Force Support Squadron's many achievements which included the Maj. Gen. Eugene L. Eubank Award for Best Small Force Support Squadron and other Air Force level awards.

This was a year of excellence for the 45th Space Wing, and I am absolutely amazed by the hard work and dedication each and every one of you has shown this year. You rallied on every occasion and devoted time, resources and manpower in support of developing a dynamic launch scheduling process, efficient Eastern Range recapitalization periods and improved our infrastructure to meet increasing government and commercial launch tempos. I will need your help, though, for the drive to 48 launches a year in the near future. We will need to work smarter and harder. I have no doubt we can accomplish this historic feat and remain the World's Premier Gateway to Space.

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