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Space squadron celebrates heritage, reflects on past 25 years

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Maj. Gen. (Retired) Frank Casserino, former 7th Space Operations Squadron commander, speaks at the 7 SOPS 25th Anniversary celebration in downtown Colorado Springs, Aug. 4th, 2018. In 1993, 7 SOPS was activated, setting the stage for Reserve Citizen Airmen to work alongside their active duty partners in the space program. The 310th Space Group, now the 310th Space Wing, evolved from 7 SOPS and remains the only space wing in the Air Force Reserve today. (U.S. Air Force video/Staff Sgt. Laura Turner)

Lt. Col. James Hogan, 7th Space Operations Squadron commander, welcomes attendees to the 7 SOPS 25th Anniversary event in downtown Colorado Springs, Aug. 4th, 2018.

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Lt. Col. James Hogan, 7th Space Operations Squadron commander, welcomes attendees to the 7 SOPS 25th Anniversary event in downtown Colorado Springs, Aug. 4th, 2018. Hogan also introduced the guest speaker, former 7 SOPS commander Maj. Gen. (Retired) Frank Casserino, the man responsible for the Air Force Reserve standing up their first space squadron back in 1993. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Laura Turner)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. --

 

Twenty-five years ago, Maj. Frank Casserino had no idea what an impact his work as a Reserve Citizen Airman would have on the future of the Air Force Reserve’s involvement in the space program. He did know, however, that Reservists had a lot to offer to their active duty partners and he encouraged local leadership to consider standing up a Reserve space squadron.

On Mar. 18th, 1993, the 7th Space Operations Squadron was activated on what was then Falcon Air Force Base with the directive to support Air Force Space Command, and Casserino was made the first-ever Reserve space squadron commander. 7 SOPS worked hand-in-hand with the active duty 1st Space Operations Squadron, 50th Space Wing, in conducting launch and early orbit checkout, proficiency and disposal operations for the Global Positioning System (GPS) and Defense Support Program (DSP) satellites.

“We were ploughing new ground at the time,” said Casserino, during his speech at the anniversary event. “Training evaluations, readiness, ops; all that stuff had never been done with traditional Reservists, with part-time people.”

Reserve Citizen Airmen brought a unique perspective and knowledge to operations, said Casserino, as a number of them already worked as civilian contractors supporting the space missions at Falcon (now Schriever AFB).

“We brought a lot of experience and knowledge that you wouldn’t get by working active duty,” said Casserino. “With our vision, enthusiasm and success, we were able to grow our manpower and our funding and, eventually, the missions grew from the squadron, to the group, to the wing.”

Four years after the activation of 7 SOPS, the 310th Space Group was activated on Sep. 4th, 1997. 7 SOPS had grown rapidly once the realization struck of how critical Reserve Citizen Airmen were to the future of space operations. With growth continuing for the group, it was re-designated the 310th Space Wing on Mar. 7th, 2008, becoming the first - and remaining the only - space wing in the Reserve.

“It was all started with (then) Maj. Casserino,” said Lt. Col. James Hogan, current 7 SOPS commander. “He was able to come in and start the 7th Space Operations Squadron and, eventually, grow that into a wing.”

Casserino reflected on the squadron’s history and spoke words of encouragement to the current men and women of 7 SOPS.

“Here we are, twenty-five years later, with a lot of time, number of missions and many personnel passing under the 7 SOPS flag,” said Casserino. “[The squadron] will continue to grow and succeed because the team in ’93 was committed to excellence, and that spirit has been passed on through the years to the men and women of 7 SOPS today.”