Senior leader pins Landstuhl Soldiers with space badges
October 22, 2012
LANDSTUHL, Germany - During his recent visit to Company C, 53rd Signal Battalion, Lt. Gen. Richard Formica awarded Soldiers with something unique to the Army - space wings.
Formica, commander of U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command & Army Forces Strategic Command, pinned Army's Basic Space Badges on two Soldiers and three Senior Space Badges on noncommissioned officers
"When I come out to see them, it's always good to be able to recognize a few folks," Formica said. "The space qualification badge is one of those ways to recognize these heroes."
Earning their senior badges were Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Marsac, Sgt. Vincent Samson and Sgt. Herman Ada. Earning their basic badges were Spc. Cynthis Dean and Pfc. Ryan Lesley. The Oct. 2 ceremony was held at the Company C's small post on Landstuhl's Kirchberg, near an array of large white antennas they use to manage military satellites hovering miles above Earth's surface.
Company C unit maintains satellite communications capabilities for a worldwide military network, said Capt Jeffrey Keenan, Company C commander. The Army calls the Soldiers "space enablers." To earn the badge, the Soldiers undergo training, plus demonstrate professionalism, either managing satellites or supporting customers' uplinks, Keenan said.
"It's a unique thing, something Soldiers aspire for," Keenan said. "It's a badge of acceptance in this community. It means you've been a controller, you've done the right thing and reached a high level of proficiency."
Most military members can easily recognize the Army's basic parachutist badge, combat infantryman badge or aviation badges. The space badge, however, often takes some explaining as so few know what the badge represents. Soldiers who've earned it may bend ears when describing their unique accoutrement -- wryly calling it the "satellite door gunner" or "in-flight satellite repairman" badge.
The space badge is the Army's newest. In fact, it has yet to make printed Army award regulations.
Worn on the upper left chest, the Space Badge evolved from an Air Force badge created in 2005. A year later, the Army first approved the Air Force badge for space Soldiers. By February 2011, the words "Air Force" were dropped and now it's simply the Space Badge.
It's awarded to active Army, Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers who complete space-related training and have significant space operations experience. The badge has three levels -- basic, senior and master. To those who earn it, the badge is a big deal and the command recognizes the achievement made, Keenan said.
"If a Soldier is doing the right thing as a technician and developing himself, he earns that badge," Keenan said. "It's not an automatic thing. It's for someone you can rely upon."
During a previous Landstuhl visit last September, Formica, a native of Connecticut who served much of his career as an artillery officer, also pinned space badges on several Company C Soldiers. He also wears a space badge and is proud to command Soldiers who provide the military such a unique capability, he said.
"It's important for the Soldiers to know their commander and command sergeant major is checking on their ability and their well being," Formica said. "I like to be able to do that."