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45th SW Top Space Launch Wing in AF

PETERSON AFB, CO -- Around 30 members of the 45th Space Wing and its supporters all jumped and cheered as if they were springloaded as Guardian Challenge judge Maj. Gen. Roger Burg announced the 45th SW winners of the 2006 Schriever Trophy during a spirited awards ceremony Aug. 24 at Peterson AFB, Colo.

This is the second year in a row the Sharks have secured the trophy - heralding the 45th SW as the Air Force's best space launch wing - from their rival, the 30th SW. This is the eighth time the Sharks have swum away with the Schriever in the 11 times the award has been presented since 1994.

"We have the best space and missile professionals in the world," said General Kevin Chilton, Air Force Space Command commander during the ceremony. "You are what make the mission of Air Force Space Command go. I don't care what badge you wear on your chest ... operator, maintainer, chef, security forces, comm specialist, pilot; you're all integral to our mission."

"This was the most cohesive team I've ever seen," said GC Project Officer Capt. Mark Tozer. "They wanted to win and every member on the team did everything they could. Senior leadership supported the team the best way senior leadership could and the most junior members - support members and competitors - supported senior leadership the best possible way they could.

Since the launch teams competed at their respective bases earlier in the year, the main focus of the three-day competition in Colorado was on the security forces. Security forces members faced off in three separate events: combat marksmanship and tactics at the neighboring Air Force Academy; and a daunting two-mile obstacle course at Schriever AFB.

The 45th SFS garnered two of three separate SFS first-place awards for combat marksmanship and tactics, beating out 10 other teams. The 50th SFS, based at Peterson, took the obstacle course.

Brig. Gen. Susan Helms, 45th SW commander, addressed a crowd of hundreds at the Patrick passenger terminal after the team's return Friday. "Our Security Forces, what a team! They had it all figured out," she said.

"We had a very diverse team," said team trainer Chief Master Sgt. Jerry Delebreau, 45th SFS. The four-person team was made up of members from active duty, reserve and Space Gateway Systems.

"For us to have such a diverse team and to be able to gel so quickly was incredible," said Chief Delebreau.

While the Schriever Trophy is awarded to the best space launch wing, representing efforts from the entire wing, the 45th's launch team also shined as the best in the Air Force as they beat out the 30th SW for the Best Spacelift Launch Group Team Award.

First Lt. Allan Hutchinson, 1st Space Launch Squadron, said the key to their performance was training. Lieutenant Hutchinson, booster operations controller, was trained by Capt. Edward Maldonado, 1st SLS.

"We wouldn't have been able to do it without Capt. Maldonado and the other trainers," said Lieutenant Hutchinson. "By the time we competed, it was all just instinct."

Other competitors felt the Sharks looming all week long, said Gen. Helms. "Everyone told us we had the best spirit of any of the wings. They said the Sharks' enthusiasm was incredible."