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2 SOPS to host 2nd annual GPS Heritage Gala

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The 2nd Space Operations Squadron will gather, along with past operators and the general public, to celebrate the heritage of GPS during the 2nd annual GPS Heritage Gala Friday, Feb. 19, at the Space Foundation in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Themed "Setting the Gold Standard," the event will celebrate GPS's success and the people who make that success possible.

"We hope to inspire the GPS community by sharing stories of our valued users," said 2nd Lt. Jacqueline Salas, a member of 2 SOPS and one of the event's organizers. "Although we do day-to-day operations, we don't always get the luxury of seeing how this signal can have a significant impact on people's lives."

To illustrate some of the down range uses for GPS, organizers selected retired Tech. Sgt. Israel Del Toro Jr. to be the keynote speaker for this year's gala. Del Toro was a Tactical Air Control Party specialist responsible for calling in airstrikes while on the frontline.

"He has a very incredible story, in many ways, but we're most interested in his use of GPS as a TACP," said event organizer Capt. Jess Pratt, 2 SOPS. "Last year, the speaker was [Dr. Brad Parkinson], [he addressed the] academic side. This year, we're looking at the user side."

In addition to the keynote speaker, two awards, a lifetime achievement and a launch award, will be presented. The event will also serve as a celebration as GPS transitions to the Block III vehicles and ushers in a new era for launches.

The last of the Block IIF vehicles launched Feb. 5, ending an aggressive launch schedule and served as the final launch conducted by 2 SOPS and the 19th Space Operations Squadron, collectively referred to as Team Blackjack, from the GPS Master Control Station.

"We picked Feb. 19 [2/19] to represent 2 SOPS and 19 SOPS, the military portion that runs GPS," Pratt said. "It's also nice timing because we just launched the last of our IIFs. It may be a little bittersweet, but that's more of a reason to take time to remember and appreciate the moment. It's a nice time to reflect on this big year of GPS."

Organizers said the Space Foundation provided an appropriate venue to celebrate GPS.

"The tables will be set in the gallery amongst the exhibits," Pratt said. "You kind of get an opportunity to see the Space Foundation too, if people have never been there."

The gala is open to the public and those interested in attending need to RSVP by Feb. 12.

"The event is a great way to get to know the people directly involved with something that the entire world uses on a daily basis," Salas said.

For more information, or to RSVP, visit http://www.gpsheritagecelebration.com/.
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