Cape Commander? Mayor? Who is Detachment 1?

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Patrick Youngson
  • Detachment 1, 45th Mission Support Group commander
Although I've only been the Detachment 1 commander for a short period of time, these first couple of months have opened my eyes to the Det's role in this amazing place we call Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. So much so that I've been asked to provide my insight into the Det by writing this article. If you're not familiar with the Cape, it's comprised of 16,000 acres of land with 1,500 facilities worth $3.5 billion. The Cape consists of a daily workforce of about 10,000 people and an extensive wildlife population, ranging from scrub jays and wild pigs to ten-foot alligators.

For history buffs, we have an abundance of historic launch complexes that catapulted America's Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo astronauts into the pages of history. The Cape has a long, proud heritage of rocket launches dating back to 1950. Artifacts from the early era of rocketry have been expertly preserved at the Air Force Space and Missile Museum. In addition to launching rockets, CCAFS is also home to several noteworthy cultural sites, such as Indian burial grounds, original Cape settler cemeteries and the only operational lighthouse owned by the Air Force.

Many of you may only think of my office as a 45th Mission Support Group detachment that creates those highly sought after launch viewing placards, but actually there's more. With only a handful of personnel, my Det 1 team is responsible for providing safety and security for roughly 150,000 launch viewers a year.

We are organized into three areas: Program Management Office (PMO), Launch Integration Office (LIO) and Front office leadership. The PMO administers 12 base support contracts operating on CCAFS and KSC to ensure smooth daily operations while the LIO is responsible for ensuring our base support contractors are "GO" for launch. As the Det 1 commander, I'm responsible for directing the Cape Emergency Operations Center (EOC) during hurricanes disasters, launches as well as assuring the most effective integration, control and utilization of CCAFS resources.

Over the years, my position has had various titles to include Cape Commander, Base Commander, Det CC and even "Mayor." But regardless of my title, the overall mission of Det 1 has remained the same. Whether supporting a launch as the EOC Director or organizing the upcoming Cape Descendant's Reunion, Det 1 will always take great pride in being the stewards of this national treasure known as Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.