Handshake, lifetime award bridge four generations of Air Force space history


It was not a typical awards banquet. For those fortunate to attend the 43rd Annual Salute to Space and Missile Systems Center awards banquet here on June 9, it was a history lesson, leadership seminar and strategy session all wrapped in one.

General Jay Raymond, commander of Air Force Space Command, was awarded the General Bernard A. Schriever National Space Leadership Award for his lifelong contributions and military achievements that have significantly enhanced the nation’s space and missile programs.

“We in the space business are extremely lucky that we had a father, and that father’s last name was Schriever,” said Raymond.  “We are here today because General Schriever and his team confronted challenge, took calculated risk and pushed forward with a spirt of innovation that drove the success of our missile and space programs.”

Adding a special touch to the black-tie event, Senior Airman Brett Schriever, the great-grandson of General Schriever, presented the award to Raymond on behalf of the Schriever Chapter of the Air Force Association. One could say a firm handshake and a smile bridged four generations of Air Force and space history.

For more than 60 years, the Air Force has played an integral role in advancing the nation’s space and missile missions. Raymond’s acceptance speech drew heavily on examples of Gen. Schriever’s bold leadership style that emerged in the 1950s, highlighting Schriever’s courageous vision as he pioneered our nation’s Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile capability as the U.S. and Soviet Union squared-off in the emerging Cold War. 

“Not only was General Schriever responsible for developing the Thor, Atlas, Titan and Minuteman missiles, he was also required to simultaneously develop the launch sites, tracking and ground support equipment needed to operate these missile systems,” added Raymond. 

“General Schriever and his contemporaries recognized the tremendous strategic advantage space could provide over our adversaries back in the Cold War,” said Raymond. “Without their sacrifice, we wouldn’t be in the position we have been for the past two decades -- that is, delivering a significant global advantage to our American warfighter.

Today, new challenges have arisen as space has transitioned from a benign environment to a contested warfighting domain just like the Air, Land and Sea.

“We are at a critical crossroads of being highly reliant on space capabilities and highly vulnerable; and that is an uncomfortable position to be in,” said Raymond. 

Air Force Space Command is transforming the way it operates in space through the Space Warfighting Construct.  This construct includes investments in human capital through the space mission force, training operators to combat advanced adversarial threats, fielding capabilities that provide a more resilient architecture, increasing the efficiency of the acquisition process, and building and strengthening partnerships, ensure the nation’s ability to outpace our potential adversaries and maintain assured access to space.

Raymond concluded his remarks by focusing on the command’s most valuable asset.

“This award is a testament to the outstanding men and women who I have had the privilege to serve with over my 33 years in the Air Force,” said Raymond. “Their tireless efforts ensure our joint warfighter teammates always have the space and cyberspace capabilities they depend upon.”

“We must strive daily to carry on the legacy of General Schriever as we are faced with new strategic challenges,” added Raymond. “And I know, without a doubt, that the great work of our talented and dedicated Airmen will continue to carry us to new horizons.”