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4 SOPS mission mobilizes for air show

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Staff Sgt. Marques Grady, 4th Space Operations Squadron technician, kneels with a satellite model to explain the basics of space to children at the Joint Base Andrews Air Show, Prince George’s County, Maryland, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Members engaged with 4,000 booth attendees during the two day event. (Courtesy photo)

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Fourth Space Operations Squadron Airmen prepare to load the mobile satellite unit and low profile antenna at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. Twenty members of 4 SOPS mobile team attended the Air Show at Joint Base Andrews, Prince George’s County, Maryland, Sept. 16-17. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

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First Lt. Max Grossenbacher, 4th Space Operations Squadron mission planner, explains the basics of wideband satellite communications and the functions of Defense Satellite Communications System satellites to guests at the Joint Base Andrews Air Show, Prince George’s County, Maryland, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Twenty members of the 4 SOPS mobile unit supported the Air Show. (Courtesy photo)

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Members of the 4th Space Operations Squadron gather inside the C-17 to transport the mobile satellite at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. 4 SOPS attended the Joint Base Andrews Air Show, Prince George’s County, Maryland, Sept. 16-17 to share the squadron’s mobile mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

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Fourth Space Operations Squadron Airmen listen to loading instructions for the mobile satellite unit and low profile antenna at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. Approximately 175,000 guests attended the Joint Base Andrews, Prince George’s County, Maryland Air Show, and 4,000 visited the 4 SOPS booth. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

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Fourth Space Operations Squadron members secure the mobile satellite unit on a C-17 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. Twenty members of 4 SOPS attended the Joint Base Andrews Air Show, Prince George’s County, Maryland, Sept. 16-17 to discuss multi-domain concepts and the 4 SOPS mobile mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Christopher DeWitt)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

The three elements of the 4th Space Operations Squadron mobile mission at Schriever Air Force Base are endurance, contingency and backup operations.

The 4 SOPS mobile unit executed all three during their first Air Show appearance at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Sept. 16-17.

Twenty 4 SOPS mobile unit members engaged 4,000 visitors during the two-day event.

Capt. James Olsen, 4 SOPS mobile operations flight commander, said the request came from Air Force Space Command headquarters a month ago, after the chief of staff of the Air Force and Gen. Jay Raymond, commander of AFSPC, requested the spread of multi-domain concepts.

“They wanted to be able to start showing the public and higher leadership that it’s not just a flying force, it’s a more integrated force with space and cyber aspects involved,” Olsen said.

Approximately 175,000 guests attended the air show that featured space assets and cyber booths.

Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Kincaid, 4 SOPS superintendent, said due to Hurricane Irma, the squadron lost air lift for a day, leading them to believe the trip was cancelled.

“I got a call around 6:30 in the morning saying, ‘your C-17 is going,’ and I thought, ‘you’re joking,’” Olsen added. “This was a great opportunity for us to say, ‘okay need to kick it back into gear now,’ and we did that extremely fast.”

Within 30 hours of the phone call, the team flew to JB Andrews.

Upon arrival, Kincaid said 4 SOPS was just one of the squadrons featured in the science, technology, engineering and math hanger.

“Anything that you could think of was in this one hanger,” he said.

Olsen was pleased with the interactions 4 SOPS made with attendees.

“Our guys were awesome with being able to handle any questions that came about and bring it down to the little kid’s level,” Olsen said. “They (4 SOPS) were all very engaging to the public.”

Kincaid agreed with Olsen.

“That was what stuck with me was their (attendees) total amazement of what we bring to the fight,” Kincaid said. “It was a phenomenal experience for us to have that connection with them.”

Kincaid’s favorite part of the event was watching the team get out of their own comfort zone.

“To speak about a program that we typically don’t talk much about, and give them (the public) a small window into this mission and then own it and engage- just really being able to be proud of what they do and communicate was amazing to see,” he said.

Staff Sgt. Jefrey Davis, 4 SOPS supervisor of protected satellite communications maintenance, said the most challenging part of the experience was getting the asset loaded onto the aircraft and getting it parked upon arrival.

“For us it was really a new challenge, because until recently it (mobile unit) has been under contract and not military owned,” he said. “It’s that transition that’s a challenge because we have more regulations and guidelines we have to follow.”

Kincaid expressed gratitude with the coordinators who supported 4 SOPS throughout the process.

“It was a great opportunity not only from a learning aspect, but a great opportunity for a lot of my guys to get that hands-on experience flying in a C-17,” he continued. “Getting to load our multi-million dollar asset and fly it halfway across the country.”

The air show had bumps in the road, but Olsen assured there were positive takeaways.

“Always being ready, and having the mindset to be able to deploy at a moment’s notice is critical for mission success,” he said.

Davis expressed the importance of staying positive and knowing the end goal is to support the mission, and Kincaid echoed his sentiment.

“The team showed flexibility to overcome a few obstacles, and proved that when called upon we can go and move this mission wherever we need to move it and be able to execute,” Kincaid said. “That’s what we proved there.”

 

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