Army names Best Missile Warning Crew
December 9, 2011
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- The 1st Space Company has four theater early missile warning detachments located around the world. These detachments are known as Joint Tactical Ground Stations, or JTAGS. For the past few weeks, the Soldiers at these sites, located in Germany, Qatar, Korea and Japan have been put to the test, competing for the title of the Army's Best Missile Warning Crew.
This year, Delta Crew from Charlie Detachment based at Osan Air Base, Korea, took home the title. Led by Crew Chief Cpl. Daniel Romero the three-man crew showed excellence in all aspects of their job as JTAGS operators. They are Cpl. Daniel Romero, Primary Operator Spc. Jonas Knehans, and Secondary Operator Spc. Trenton Huntsinger.
The winning crew was able to beat out 15 other similar-sized crews for the honor of being called the Army's Best Missile Warning Crew, showing they excelled in every aspect of their job.
"The competition has been a tradition for quite a while in JTAGS," said Sgt. 1st Class Andrew B. Brown, the training and evaluations noncommissioned officer in charge for JTAGS.
"It's important to the crews because it gives them a chance to showcase their knowledge and expertise that they are using on a daily basis," he said. "We have four detachments within JTAGS, and it's a friendly competition, but each site is always trying to outdo each other."
The JTAGS mission is one that never rests, with crews on watch 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The crews work long hours on a daily basis to accomplish their mission, providing early missile warning.
"They were tested on a variety of skills, from physical fitness aspects, to simulated real-world operations designed to test their decision-making ability and the crew chief's ability to lead," said Brown.
"We would throw things out there and challenge the crew chiefs to make split-second decisions about what to do," Brown said. "Immediately after they were finished, we had them give us a variety of complex reports. We definitely up the stress factor in the competition. It really shows who did their homework for this competition."
Brown was part of a three-person evaluation team from Colorado Springs who traveled to all four detachments to oversee the competition. The competition was also overseen by 1st Space Company commander, Maj. Christopher Turner, and company first sergeant, Sgt. 1st Class Joseph Collins.
Delta Crew is unique, as their crew leader is a corporal, the lowest of the noncommissioned officer ranks, most crew chiefs within JTAGS detachments are of the staff sergeant or E-6 rank.
Each member of Delta Crew will receive Army Commendation Medals for their achievements. The detachment will receive a streamer to put on their guidon--the first one for C Detachment.
"I think it's a great honor to recognize excellence, which is what the best crew does," said Col. Eric P. Henderson, 1st Space Brigade commander.
"It's important to point out that our adversaries do not take into account 'who' is on watch as it relates to missile warning," Henderson said. "My thought is that every crew needs to be 'best crew' when the lives of our countrymen and our allies and our national interests are at stake."
Cpl. Romero didn't get to be the crew chief he is on his own. The detachment leadership is in place to help mentor and guide the young Soldiers who come through. C Detachment is no exception. Commanded by Capt. Corey H. Ruckdeschel and expertly led and run by Noncommissioned Officer in Charge Sgt. 1st Class Christopher L. Barber, the dedication of the leadership in Korea has not gone unnoticed by senior leaders within the command.
"Charlie detachment, like any other unit has highs and lows," said Henderson. "The current command team in Osan is not one to 'admire a problem,' rather; they place emphasis on the operational mission while simultaneously taking care of their Soldiers. It is not surprising that the detachment faired so well within this competition."
And the excellence of their Soldiers has not gone unrecognized by the detachment leadership according to Ruckdeschel.
"It's awesome that a crew from JTAGS Korea can represent not only the 1st Space Company, but the Army," said Ruckdeschel. "Korea is a site that rarely has longevity, and to have a crew from our location, who has only been together for four months, prove that dedication and know how can outweigh longevity and experience is excellent. To have this crew prove themselves as not only the best in the Company, but in the entire Army just shows how dedicated to the success of the mission our Soldiers are. Their win in this competition was about heart, dedication, and willingness to learn."
The efforts of these Soldiers is appreciated by their senior enlisted leader on site.
"This crew took a great interest in the competition," said Barber.
"They dedicated many hours of their down time to not only prepare for the Best Crew Competition, but to make themselves better JTAGS operators overall," Barber said. "To have them win the title of the Army's Best Missile Warning Crew is a reflection of the effort the Soldiers put into preparing for their mission."
The 1st Space Company is one of five companies which comprise the 1st Space Battalion. In turn this is one of three unique battalions that form the Army's only Space brigade -- the 1st Space Brigade. The over-all mission of the brigade and its battalions is to provide space-based capabilities and products to the warfighter on the ground.