KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFRL) – Air Force Research Laboratory
and Space and Missile Systems Center
units here inducted nine field grade officers and one company grade officer into the U.S. Space Force in a ceremony attended by fellow Airmen, Guardians and family members, July 23.
Airmen from AFRL who raised their hand and took the oath of office to become Guardians were Col. Eric Felt, Lt. Col. Landon Bastow, Maj. Brian Palmer, Maj. Adam Lemmenes, Maj. Kevin Vitayaudom, and Capt. Jordan Eldridge.
The SMC officers were Col. Joseph Roth, Maj. Derick Perry, Maj. Mike Rosenof and Maj. Travis Pond.
Maj. Gen. Neil McCasland (USAF Ret.) officiated the ceremony that included the presentation of colors by the Team Kirtland Honor Guard, a remarkable saxophone rendering of the “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Maj. Derick Perry and an invocation by Capt. (Chap.) Craig Nakagawa.
Preceding the officers taking the oath of induction, Col. Eric Felt, director of the AFRL Space Vehicles Directorate, and Col. Joseph Roth, director of the SMC Innovative and Prototyping Directorate, expressed their thoughts on the importance of the new service.
Felt asked the soon to be Guardians to think about why they were making this change and why the Space Force is important to our nation.
“The Space Domain has never been more critical,” Felt said. “We must protect our assets in space and be vigilant in deterring a conflict in this domain. The culture of the Space Force is emerging and we have the chance to define its future. We’ll remember this day a long time and the reasons we did it.”
Roth said that it was a great honor to take this oath of office and to do so as a combined group of Space Force units at Kirtland was especially meaningful.
“In my wildest dreams I never thought we would have this historic event and that I would be a part of it,” Roth said. “It’s an opportunity to shape our nation, something that has not been done since 1947, when the U.S. Air Force was formed. As we begin our journey today you will be on the cutting edge of ensuring our nation’s space superiority.”
Former AFRL commander and one time director of the Space Vehicles Directorate, McCasland thanked Felt and Roth for extending him the privilege of officiating the ceremony.
“Officers, it is quite a moment indeed for all of you,” McCasland said. “To resign the Air Force commission that you have honored and served under and earned the grades you hold, to take a commission in our new service.”
McCasland explained that he was honored when he spoke at the AFRL commissioning of company grade officers in February. Then he talked about what our nation expects of the Space Force, why it was established and the long space legacy at Kirtland – and of the opportunity to establish a unique culture suited to the U.S. Space Force.
“The heavy lifting, however, field grade officers, in defining in the Space Force, falls on your shoulders, to detail brass tacks, plan and execute,” McCasland said. “I’m, thrilled with the bold vision the Chief of Space Operations and his senior staff are staking out….but, I’m here to tell you, though, its success is going to depend on your collective vision about how to pull it off in reality.”
McCasland reminded the new Guardian field grade officers that they are the brain trust in the DOD for the core, foundational, and scientific and technical expertise the Space Force will count on.
“There is no doubt in my mind you will meet the challenge,” McCasland emphasized. “The Space Force counts on what you do here, expects more from you and I’m completely stoked you all are up to it and excited about what you will achieve.”