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Peterson Air Force Base picking up the Pentagon's top award for excellence in space missions

April 15, 2017 Updated: April 15, 2017 at 8:16 pm
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U.S. Strategic Command boss was in Colorado Springs this month to give the Omaha Trophy, a top award for excellence, to the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base. (Air Force Photo)

The 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base may need a bigger trophy case after picking up the Pentagon's top award for excellence in space missions this month.

The wing earned U.S. Strategic Command's Omaha Trophy, an annual award given to the top space unit that falls under the Nebraska-based command. The honor recognized the wing for providing commanders with a clear picture of what America's rivals are doing in space along with early warning of missile attacks.

Strategic Command boss Gen. John Hyten traveled to Colorado Springs to deliver the trophy and words of praise for the wing, which has airmen stationed around the world and in combat zones to support ground troops.

"Everywhere we are in combat, everywhere we are in the fight today, you will find space people embedded with us," Hyten said, according to the wing's website. "If you look at this wing, we are embedded globally everywhere we go."

The 21st, led by Col. Douglas Schiess, is headquartered at Peterson but has detachments that ring the planet. Airmen from the wing monitor space activity and missile launches from bases in Greenland, Alaska, England, New Mexico, Florida, North Dakota, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Diego Garcia, an island in the Indian Ocean.

The wing also acts as the landlord for Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, the military's famed underground command post.

The unit is no stranger to big awards. In 2016, it earned Air Force Space Command's Moorman Award as the nation's top space wing.

The Omaha Trophy competition pitted the 21st against units across the Armed services.

"From your operational command's perspective, there is not much of a larger award you can get," Hyten said as he presented the trophy in a ceremony this month.

Schiess told his airmen that the trophy honors every aspect of the wing's work, from ensuring American satellites are safe from attack to more mundane tasks.

"It says what we do every day is incredible, whether you're making sure someone is medically ready to go downrange, guarding the gates, or making sure we can get our space Airmen out of town if we have to with our logistics readiness and airfield folks," Schiess said. "If you're at one of our missile warning, missile defense or space situational awareness sites, or ultimately going downrange - you are all amazing Airmen.

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