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Sharks: Thanks for All You Do

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- During our change of command in February 2010, I said having the opportunity to serve as the Commander of the 45th Space Wing was a dream come true. Well, it has been ...  and more.

From day one, you've treated Lisa, Burke, Jordan and me like family.

Whether it was spending time with our youngest Airmen just arriving at their first duty  station, one of our long-serving government civilians, an industry partner, a World War II veteran who served generations ago, or a host of others, you've touched our family in a special way. Team Patrick and our local community have blessed us in so many ways.

We've focused on our mission, people, modernization and partnerships in an effort to  sustain our position as the world's premier gateway to space. In my humble opinion,  we've achieved unprecedented success. As evidence, we simply have to look at the long string of "firsts" achieved - launch of the first Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS)  satellite, the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite, the first GPS Block  IIF satellite, the first Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), as well as the first Falcon-9 launch vehicle and Dragon capsule ... all in the last 14 months!

Added to this string of successes, we supported NASA's final Space Shuttle flight culminating a 30-plus year legacy. The Atlantis mission moved literally hundreds of  thousands to tears; the memories will last for a lifetime. We're primed to support each and every one of NASA's future missions.

We've been good stewards of the Eastern Range and as a result it is operating more reliably than at any time in its decades-long history.

We've been encouraged by the progress due to the heroic efforts of our Range operations, sustainment and modernization teams.

This has allowed us to add several non-traditional missions to our portfolio such a UAV operations from the Cape with the Customs and Border Protection team, National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) support, Afghan Air Advisor C-27 training with the Department of State and AETC, as well as a myriad of new commercial launch users at the Cape.

We have deployed nearly a thousand Team Patrick Airmen into harm's way to support the fight downrange. Each of these members received the proper training, equipment and sage  counsel to ensure their success. As a result, we've been honored to recognize countless members with Bronze Stars, Purple Hearts and other medals for their service. All the
while, we cared for the families left behind just as they were our own family.

It's also with a tremendous sense of pride to report that the myriad of quality of life improvements have made a real impact for the entire team. From new operations at the Riverside  Dining Facility, to upgraded jogging trails, to refurbished beach areas, to upgrades at the marina and golf course, to dorm refurbishments, to repairs at the FamCamp, to new food and outdoor recreation options at the Beach House (old Blockhouse), to a new running track and workout areas and Outdoor Rec Annex at the Cape, we've made a real difference in people's lives here on the Space Coast. We believe we're setting the standard for others to follow in this area around the Air Force.

That said, we can't do it alone. Our relationships with our mission partners and the local community have been instrumental to our success.

In the past, I've always looked on with envy at the unique chemistry here on the Space Coast. Now, we can attest to the positive impact of these relationships in person.

It has been an honor and privilege to serve side by side with each of you. We'll be watching with envy from the D.C. area as Team Patrick takes on the challenges ahead.

My hunch is you will conquer them all with pride and professionalism.

We just ask that you support Brig. Gen. Cotton and his wife, Marsha, with the same passion. They're two of the finest our Air Force has to offer and we're fortunate to have them joining the Sharks again!

As always, thank you for all you do ... and will do.