Sharks shine once again!

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Greetings and congratulations Sharks! You are doing a tremendous job during a very hectic period as we close out the calendar year with a flurry of launches and special events.

That was a beautiful launch of Space Shuttle Discovery Tuesday. Mother Nature tried to delay the mission, but thanks to some great work by our weather specialists (and chaplains), NASA launched Discovery safely.

As a veteran of five shuttle flights, the program has a special place in my heart and I still get chills every single time a mission is launched. The space shuttle is one of the greatest technological wonders of our time and is a testament to American ingenuity. I hope each of you derives the same sense of awe and achievement as I do whenever a shuttle flies. Step by step, we are helping NASA build the International Space Station, which I see as our stepping stone to the stars.

I do not know of another Air Force wing that provides its members comparable once-in-a-lifetime opportunities like the ones we get here at the 45th Space Wing. In the past four weeks, we had four major space launches...the first asteroid explorer, a new generation of communication satellite, another navigation satellite and the shuttle mission. It just cannot get any better than this in terms of being on the cutting edge of science and space technology. Kudos to our Eastern Range team for safely fostering four major space launches on the range within four weeks. I am positive we will keep the momentum going with a safe shuttle landing in a couple of weeks, followed up with the Delta IV-Heavy/DSP mission shortly thereafter.

Between launching the Delta II and the shuttle, last weekend we hosted a group of distinguished Colorado civic leaders escorted by Maj. Gen. Tom Deppe, Vice Commander of Air Force Space Command. The civic leaders left with a much greater understanding of and appreciation for what the Sharks do in defense of our Nation. Many of you worked Saturday to support this visit. I greatly appreciate it and I know General Deppe does, too. I would especially like to thank Eric Brian of our Public Affairs Office for working so diligently over the past several weeks to plan and execute this visit. The feedback from General Deppe and our guests has been fantastic. Well done to all!

With everything going on, it would be easy to shift focus from what is really important: our families. Please do not let yourself get so busy that you neglect them. Share what you do with your spouse and your kids, make the time and take advantage of all this area has to offer. They are valued members of our team. Go Sharks!