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No. 1: With the record to prove it

Col. Lee Rosen, left, commander, 45th Launch Group, cases the colors of the 1st Space Launch Squadron for the final time during an inactivation ceremony held Tuesday morning at the Cape. Assisting Col. Rosen is Lt. Col. Erik Bowman, right, the last commander of the squadron known as “The First.” In the center is Master Sgt. De Mobbs, the squadron’s superintendent. (U. S. Air Force photo by Jennifer Macklin)

Col. Lee Rosen, left, commander, 45th Launch Group, cases the colors of the 1st Space Launch Squadron for the final time during an inactivation ceremony held Tuesday morning at the Cape. Assisting Col. Rosen is Lt. Col. Erik Bowman, right, the last commander of the squadron known as “The First.” In the center is Master Sgt. De Mobbs, the squadron’s superintendent. (U. S. Air Force photo by Jennifer Macklin)

Current and past members of the 1st Space Launch Squadron were among those who attended. inactivation ceremony held Tuesday in Hangar R at the Cape. “The First” was activated on Oct. 1, 1990. (U. S. Air Force photo by John Connell)

Current and past members of the 1st Space Launch Squadron were among those who attended. inactivation ceremony held Tuesday in Hangar R at the Cape. “The First” was activated on Oct. 1, 1990. (U. S. Air Force photo by John Connell)

“For the last 19 years, The First has been the Air Force poster-child for space launch. It’s only appropriate that the Delta II has earned the moniker of the ‘workhorse of the American launch industry.’” said Col. Lee Rosen, commander, 45th Launch Group. (U. S. Air Force photo by Jennifer Macklin)

“For the last 19 years, The First has been the Air Force poster-child for space launch. It’s only appropriate that the Delta II has earned the moniker of the ‘workhorse of the American launch industry.’” said Col. Lee Rosen, commander, 45th Launch Group. (U. S. Air Force photo by Jennifer Macklin)

CAPE CANVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- A little short of two decades ago - Oct. 1, 1990 to be exact - the 1st Space Launch Squadron - known as "The First" -- was activated. Tuesday morning at Hangar R at the Cape, their colors were cased for the last time during a bitter-sweet inactivation ceremony. 

"For the last 19 years, The First has been the Air Force poster-child for space launch. I don't know how many times I've seen a picture of a GPS Delta II -- with its fierce shark eyes & teeth -- being launched on the walls and media around the Air Force and DOD," said Col. Lee Rosen, commander, 45th Launch Group. 

"Those images demonstrate the Air Force's and the nation's space launch capability and reliability. It's only appropriate that the Delta II has earned the moniker of the "workhorse of the American launch industry." 

Lt. Col. Erik Bowman, the last commander of the famed squadron, said his first taste of command was the highlight of his career so far. 

"I can't thank the team enough for all the hard work and dedication and most of all, professional attitude, that got us to the finish line," he said. 

We had a 97.9 success percentage of all 1st SLS delta II launches. This is the highest launch reliability record in the air force," he said. "And 41 GPS satellites were launched by us. In fact, every single GPS satellite currently operating today was launched by the 1st Space Launch Squadron." 

He said a shrinking workforce made everyone's job tougher -and he is still stunned at how they accomplished the mission. 

"The stress on this team to accomplish the same mission successfully with what was effectively 30% manning boggles my mind, "he said. 

"The teamwork, professionalism, expertise, and work ethic of this team has been phenomenal. And when I say the team, I am also including LRSW and ULA--I know that shrinking workforces have been challenging for your organizations as well. You've done everything I've asked and more, and you've done it flawlessly. You are all my personal heroes," he said. 

Col. Rosen, a New England native, likened the squadron's demonstrated success with that of a legendary NBA coach and Hall of Famer. 

"With yesterday's (Monday) successful launch, that caps the astonishing streak of 44 straight successful one-in-a-row missions for the 1st SLS," he said. 

"This streak is indicative of an unimaginable sustained level of excellence rarely achieved in this, or any endeavor. Like the 11 championships in 13 years by the Boston Celtics in the late-50's through 60's, which included an unbelievable streak of eight championships in a row from 1959 to 1966, "Col. Rosen said. 

"Red Auerbach, the famous coach for nine of those championships, was once asked about winning and he responded by simply saying, "Just do what you do best." 

"No other squadron can live up to these sage words of wisdom better than the 1st SLS. Because what they do best is launch rockets, and they definitely have the track record to prove it," he said.