Detachment 1: Every day 'an adventure'

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Pat Youngson
  • Detachment 1, 45th Mission Support Group commander
As the Detachment 1 commander in charge of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, each day is an adventure. My team and I manage one of the most dynamic installations in the Air Force, which means I wear many hats and rely heavily on a talented team of professionals for support.

As the Emergency Operations Center Director, I get to be one of a handful of the closest humans to each launch.

This past year has been even more exciting with three times the number of launches as 2008. As stewards of the land, we've corralled wild hogs, trapped wayward alligators, protected freezing sea turtles and managed scarce scrubjay habitat.

As the launch support integrator, I work with a vast group of experts ensuring the installation is ready to support every Eastern Range launch. Each area of responsibility is exciting and
rewarding in its own way, but perhaps the most enriching aspect of the job has to do with protecting the Cape's heritage.

As an integral part of America's space program, most of us are well aware of the Cape's place in space history. However, long before the Cape was home to the world's premier space launch organization, it was home to a handful of families that worked the land and managed the historic Canaveral Lighthouse. A half century ago, the U.S. recognized the value of this land for its strategic launch location and, unfortunately, those families had to walk away from the land they loved.

This past weekend, Det 1 sponsored the annual Descendants Reunion to recognize the sacrifices those families made for our nation. Once a year we open our gates to the descendants of the original Cape Canaveral settlers so they can visit several of the eight family gravesites and reminisce of days before rockets and missiles.

The tradition began 10 years ago and has truly turned into the family reunion it was intended to be. We at Det 1 are grateful to play a role in the festivities. Thanks to
the descendants for their sacrifices and for making those of us who participated in the event feel like part of the family.