VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense) officially unfurled the guidon for its Detachment One during an Activation and Change of Command ceremony here May 13.
The unit is comprised of seven California National Guard Soldiers working together to defend the skies above America in case of a foreign missile attack. They work hand-in-hand with other brigade units in Colorado and Alaska to accomplish the mission of defending the homeland.
The detachment has been working together for the past four years out of California but it had not been recognized by the Army as an official unit.
"The original manning document had only Alaska and Colorado in it," said Col. Gregory Bowen, commander of the 100th MDB (GMD) to the Soldiers and family in attendance at the ceremony. "We couldn't add California legally until we sent it (manning document) all the way back up to the Secretary of the Army and got his approval, which was a very long process that concluded about two months ago. So now we can formally activate Detachment One."
And with that, Detachment One's guidon was unfurled and handed to the outgoing commander, Capt. Orlando Cobos.
"Bottom line, Orlando has done an absolutely phenomenal job as the detachment commander," said Bowen. "If you think in terms of the responsibility he bears every day, this is a lot of pressure that we put on a captain to be out here in charge of this particular asset."
As Cobos accepted the guidon his official command time was started. But it didn't last long, as he stepped down and handed over the command to incoming commander Capt. William Palermo.
Time in command 4 minutes, 31 seconds.
"It was an outstanding four minutes, it gave me very little time to screw up," said Cobos, laughing. "The four minutes was actually almost four years, but it was an amazing four years."
Cobos started coming out to California on temporary duty with six others Soldiers when the detachment first formed and now, as he leaves, it's a full time duty station with plans to add more Soldiers to handle the mission.
“It's been a fun ride, we have had some challenges, especially integrating into the air force base here and the California National Guard, but overall I been a very fortunate to be a part of this," Cobos added.
Palermo is leaving his assignment in Colorado Springs Colo., as the 100th MDB's Brigade assistant intelligence officer. He has served in the unit since 2008 and was previously deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
"I've seen a lot of people come and go since I began working here. During my tenure, I've worked with some outstanding individuals and have been afforded great opportunities. That said, I will surely miss it here (in Colorado)," said Palermo.
But as he starts his tenure with the new detachment, he knows what he has to do to keep the standard up there.
"I want to develop a loyal team that is focused on accomplishing our mission which is greater than any one person. If we embrace the true meaning of teamwork we will accomplish great things." said Palermo "I am very thankful that I was entrusted with the responsibility to lead Detachment One. Capt. Cobos has accomplished great things over the past couple of years especially in standing up the detachment and I will have big shoes to fill, but I'm looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead."
Cobos plans to leave the 100th to join the 79th Infantry Brigade Combat Team located in San Diego. He will be the battalion's Training and Operation officer.
"The guys have always been dedicated to the mission. All of them are good people. Soldier-wise, they execute the mission and they are great Soldiers so I have been very fortunate. Capt Palermo has a great group of guys who know the mission here and they will take care of him," said Cobos.