Buckley Space Force Base in Aurora became the first Colorado military installation to change its name in honor of the new service branch on Friday.
It’s a move that heralds a change that is soon expected to hit Colorado Springs, where Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases will also get new names, according to Pentagon plans. Colorado will have the largest contingent of bases named for the new space service because it is also home to U.S. Space Command, Space Operations Command, and the bulk of the Space Force's 13,000 troops.
At Buckley, Space Force troops control satellites that are designed to detect heat blooms from launches, giving America warning against intercontinental ballistic missile attacks.
But getting the "space" name doesn't take Buckley out of the air business. It is still home to the F-16 jets of the Colorado Air National Guard's 140th Fighter Wing.
Buckley Space Force Base also got a new landlord Friday: Col. Marcus Jackson is the new garrison commander, overseeing upkeep and security of the base and care for its troops and civilian workers.
“Today Buckley adds to its illustrious history by becoming the fourth installation to bear the name of our new service branch,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, commander of Space Operations Command at Peterson in Colorado Springs, said during Friday's ceremony for Buckley.
“The renaming of Buckley Space Force Base is an important step towards establishing our distinct Space Force culture and identity. By aligning its title to reflect the critical space missions performed here, we signal our steadfast commitment to protecting our nation, our allies and our mission partners operating in, from and to space.
Buckley was named after 1st Lt. John Harold Buckley, a World War I Army pilot from Longmont who died in combat in 1918.
The installation was activated 80 years ago this month and has been run by the Army, Navy, Air National Guard, Air Force and now the Space Force.
It is the largest employer in Aurora with a $1.3 billion impact on the local economy last fiscal year, according to Jackson.
Jackson took command at Buckley after spending the past two years at Schriever outside Colorado Springs where he was focused on defending American satellites.
“Buckley is lethal across multiple domains, air, space, cyberspace, land and sea," he said Friday “By renaming Buckley … there is a clear message being sent to our adversaries. We are focused on maintaining space dominance.”