2020 Alaska Missile Defender of the Year
On Saturday September 26, 2020, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance held their 2020 Alaska Missile Defender of the Year Award Ceremony virtually.
We’d like to congratulate all of the awardees for this year, and thank you for your military service and your achievements: SSgt Matthew Dunlap; SSgt Gersom Rivera; SSgt Kenneth Jewitt; Capt Kevin Nelson; MSgt Tariq Simpson; SPC Emmanuel Diaz Santiago Torres; SGT Vincent Weiters; SSG Matthew Myers; SSG Alberto Galicia; 1LT Kyle Rehberg; CPT Gilberto Ortiz; MAJ Terri Homestead; A1C Carson Willard; MSgt Brandon Renko; Capt Samuel Keller; Maj Karlton Wolf; and Maj Brieanna Carroll.
We’d like to recognize the 2020 Ted Stevens Memorial Award recipient, Master Sergeant Daniel Kennett on his accomplishments and his achievement.
Senator Ted Stevens has been memorialized in this award by the ceremony’s presenters, the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance [MDAA], due to his longtime contributions to national missile defense and his legislative efforts to advance the nation’s and Alaska’s missile defense programs. Sen. Stevens was influential in moving the nation’s ground-based missile defense system from North Dakota to Alaska, in order to expand its protection range and enable it to defend all 50 states.
The Ted Stevens Memorial Award exists to recognize the ‘best leader in missile defense’ for the State of Alaska.
To learn more about the MDAA, please visit: http://missiledefenseadvocacy.org/
The following biographical details for the 2020 Awardees have been provided to us by the MDAA:
611th AOC Awardees
On 16 June 2020, North American Aerospace Defense Command F-22 Raptors, supported by KC-135 Stratotankers and an E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, successfully completed two intercepts of Russian bomber aircraft formations entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone.
The first formation of Russian aircraft consisted of two Tu-95 bombers, accompanied by two Su-35 fighter jets and was supported by an A-50 airborne early warning and control aircraft. The second formation consisted of two additional Tu-95 bombers supported by an A-50. The Russian military aircraft came within 32 nautical miles of Alaskan shores, but remained in international airspace.
On the ground, members of the 611th Air Operations Center directed the response to the Air Defense Identification Zone incursion and coordinated with mission partners to ensure a successful intercept. Heralding the Alaskan NORAD Region’s readiness and ability to respond to these incursions, General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, NORAD Commander, stated, “For the eighth time this year, Russian military aircraft have penetrated our Canadian or Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zones and each and every time NORAD forces were ready to meet this challenge… Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, NORAD constantly monitors the northern approaches to our nations and our operations make it clear that we will conduct homeland defense efforts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”
The nominees from 611th Air Operations Center and the Alaskan NORAD Region represent a small sample of the men and women who, through their professionalism, dedication, and tireless efforts, protect North American air sovereignty. This most recent event showcases their ability and willingness to go above and beyond the daily expectation and typical pattern of operations, to the benefit of all under their watch.
Airman First Class Carson Willard
Airman First Class Carson Willard serves as an Intelligence Duty Technician on the 24/7 Indications and Warning team that guides real time analysis, supporting the decision cycle for the Chief of Combat Operations (CCO) as well as the Commander of the Alaskan NORAD Region (ANR). On a daily basis, Airman Willard analyzes over 200 messages as well as monitoring 1.4 million square miles of Alaskan airspace for USNORAD-NORTHCOM. As part of the Indications and Warnings (I&W) team, Airman Willard has delivered 208 update briefs which have primed and influenced real-world combat ops decision making. He has also managed dynamic Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) reporting and analysis for 5 Northern Sovereignty Operations (NSO) and Alaskan Air Identification Zone entries by unauthorized aircraft enabling senior leadership decision making. His efforts are in keeping with ANR’s mission of maintaining the U.S.’s aerospace sovereignty and integrity.
Airman Willard is a native of Houston, Texas. He attended Friendswood High School graduating in 2011. After graduation, he attended Texas State University – San Marcos and later transferred to the University of Houston, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Minor in U.S. History in 2017. He enlisted in the Air Force in 2018. Following basic training, Airman Willard attended the AF Intelligence All-Source Analyst Basic Course at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, TX. After graduating from Intelligence School, he was assigned to the 611th Air Operations Center at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK.
Master Sergeant Brandon Renko
Master Sergeant Brandon A. Renko is currently serving as Superintendent, 611th Air Operations Center, Joint-Base Elmendorf Richardson, Alaska. As the Superintendent, he is a principal advisor to the commander on issues related to unit readiness, morale, admin actions, discipline, quality of life initiatives, and mentoring for 11 different AFSC’s. Furthermore, Sergeant Renko provides the commander with a mission ready force prepared to execute unit operations.
Sergeant Renko graduated from Samuel Clemens High School in 2001. He enlisted in the Air Force on April 15, 2003 and upon graduation from Basic Military Training, he stationed at Keesler Air Force Base (AFB) for Weather Technical Training, later earning his CCAF in Weather Technology in 2012. His first duty assignment was with the USAFE OWS, Sembach AFB, Germany. Sergeant Renko’s additional tours of duty include Moody AFB, GA; Seymour Johnson AFB, NC; Creech AFB, NV; and his current assignment to Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson, AK. His contingency deployments have taken him to Kyrgyzstan, Qatar and Afghanistan. Sergeant Renko has a wide breadth of experience supporting different platforms including the F-22, F-15 Strike Eagle, A-10, RQ-170, and multiple combat deployments, some of which were in direct support of Brigade Combat Teams.
Captain Samuel Keller
Capt Samuel Keller is currently assigned as a Senior Intelligence Duty Officer (SIDO) and Team Chief with the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Division (ISRD), 611th Air Operations Center (611 AOC), Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. He leads a ten-member 24/7 Indications and Warning team that drives real-time analysis, safeguarding Alaskan and U.S. aerospace integrity and sovereignty for over 1.4 million square miles, as well as supporting the decision cycle for the Chief of Combat Operations and the Commander of Alaskan NORAD Region (ANR).
Capt Keller is from Dayton, Ohio and commissioned through AFROTC from Wright State University in 2011 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. In 2012, Capt Keller completed the Missile Launch Officer Initial Qualification Training Course for the Minute Man III ICBM weapon system, and subsequently the Air Force Intelligence Officer Initial Skills Training Course in 2013. He has served at the 42d Attack Squadron (42ATKS), Creech AFB, NV, the USAF’s first operational MQ-9 Reaper Squadron and has led intelligence support in Operations INHERENT RESOLVE (OIR), JUKEBOX LOTUS (OJL), and ODYSSEY RESOLVE (OOR). Capt Keller was also assigned to the 1st Air Force (1AF), Tyndall AFB, FL where he assisted the Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) during three hurricanes and helped to reestablish capabilities for the Continental NORAD Region (CONR), following the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Capt Keller’s next assignment is as a student in USAF Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training (SUPT) at Laughlin AFB, TX.
Major Karlton Wolf
Major Karlton Wolf is an Air Battle Manager assigned to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. He is currently working as an Air Surveillance Officer aboard the E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control platform with the 962d Airborne Air Control Squadron. Maj Wolf is performing duties at the 611th Air Operations Center as the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Branch Chief; Defense Duty Officer for Command & Control; Reconnaissance Duty Officer; and Joint Interface Control Officer.
Maj Wolf started his career in the Air Force in 1999 as a Medical Technician before earning his commission in 2006. As an Officer, he has worked aboard the E-3 Sentry, at a Control and Reporting Center, and at an Air Operations Center deploying three times to United States Central Command supporting counter-terrorism operations and once to United States Southern Command supporting counter-drug operations. Additionally, Maj Wolf has done research as well as developmental and operational testing in Radar and Data Link Operations for the Air Force.
Major Brieanna Carroll
Major Brieanna C. Carroll is Chief of Combat Plans Branch, 611th Air Operations Center, Alaskan North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Region at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. She is responsible for the planning, allocation and tasking of air and cyberspace forces for the Alaskan NORAD Region Combined Air Forces Component Commander. She leads planning for contingency responses across the Alaskan NORAD Region by assessing resources, managing operation objectives, and informing strategic Alaskan NORAD Region alert forces of daily posture options.
Maj Carroll received her commission in 2009 from the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Pepperdine University. Her first two assignments were with the 964th Airborne Air Control Squadron and the 621st Air Control Squadron. She is currently assigned to the 962d Airborne Air Control Squadron and the 611th Air Operations Center. As an Air Battle Manager, she is an Evaluator Senior Director with 1,180 Combat and Combat Support hours in Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Combined Defense of the Arabian Gulf, Operation NOBLE EAGLE and counter-drug operations. Maj Carroll is a Senior Air Battle Manager with over 2,240 flying hours.
Ft. Greely Military Police Awardees
Specialist Emanuel Diaz Santiago Torres
SPC Emmanuel Diaz Santiago Torres has been stationed at Fort Greely since May 1, 2018, and since arriving, has become the example for which all Junior Enlisted Soldiers should strive. As a driver trainer, SPC Diaz personally qualified over 30 Soldiers on the HEAT Trainer; which then allowed him to conduct driving tests and ride checks for them as well. SPC Diaz Santiago further certified Soldiers of the company in proper tow bar training; which further increased Soldier knowledge, training, and certification in the proper way to manipulate government property. This training iteration was an asset, not only to the platoon, but the company as a whole, as it reinforced the concept of stewardship for government property. His experience and knowledge was also utilized from his Communication Clerk role has been part of multiple company level inspections that met 100% of all accountability and maintenance requirements of all sensitive items. All other accomplishments aside, SPC Diaz Santiago takes time to personally instruct and mentor other Soldiers for personal improvement and career progression (distance learning, college, etc.). SPC Diaz Santiago has had a direct impact that has been felt throughout the MP GBI Security Company, and due to his personal professionalism, and all aforementioned examples, SPC Emmanuel Diaz Santiago Torres is the Junior Enlisted Missile Defender of the Year.
SPC Emanuel Diaz Santiago joined the Army in 2012 as a 94F, Computer Detection / System Repairer Soldier. He completed Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Gordon, Georgia. He was then assigned to the 192nd Support Battalion (BN), Bravo Company (CO) at San Juan, Puerto Rico (PR) until 2013. In 2013, he was reassigned to the 225th Military Police (MP) CO in Hato Rey, PR; which is when he reclassified to the 31B MP Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) at Fort Allen, PR. SPC Emanuel Diaz Santiago was then assigned to the Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG) Counter-drug Program as a Criminal Analyst in 2014. He stayed there until he was mobilized with his home unit, the 225th, to Honduras in 2015. That assignment was located at Soto Cano Air Force Base, Honduras, during which time he supported the security mission for local coalition forces. Upon his completion of the mobilization in 2016, he returned to PRNG Counter-drug Program, and continued in that position until 2018. In April 2018, SPC Emanuel Diaz Santiago accepted a position with the MP Ground-Based Interceptor (GBI) Security (SEC) CO, at Fort Greely, Alaska. During this time he has attended and completed Basic Leader Course (BLC), and currently awaiting his promotion to Sergeant (SGT). SPC Emanuel Diaz Santiago is married to Sheila Negron Rosado, and he has five children Camilla, Arianis, Yasser, Gabriela, and Lia. He has completed his Associate of Art Degree in Electrical Technology, and is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science, with a concentration of Cyber Security.
Sergeant Vincent Weiters
SGT Weiters is an NCO who continues to grow in his role here, exponentially. He utilizes his experience as an Air Force Security Policeman, with his personal experience and experiences gained while serving with the 49th GMD to help his colleagues on a daily basis. He is proactive and diligent in his work while he serves as The Equal Opportunity NCO, Assistant MRT, SHARP, and HAZMAT Certifier. SGT Weiters is a vital part of Team, Squad, Platoon and Company Level Training, training Soldiers for internal and external evaluations. He trains his fellow Soldiers in Room Clearance, Hand Cuffing Techniques, IPC Skills, and Entry Control Point Procedures. His fellow Soldiers see him as a leader to emulate.
SGT Weiters, Vincent K. was born on August 19, 1983 in Augusta Ga. In 2003, one year after completing High School, SGT Weiters enlisted in the Air Force. He went to Lackland AFB to complete basic training and Security Forces AIT. His first duty station was at F.E Warren AFB working in the Convoy Support Squadron. In 2005 SGT Weiters enlisted in the Wyoming Army National Guard as a 68E Dental Assistant for 6 years. In 2011 SGT Weiters took an interstate transfer to the Alaska Army National Guard to work in the MEDDET unit. In his time in the unit, SGT Weiters completed WLC in 2012 and was promoted to Staff Sergeant in 2013. In 2015 SGT Weiters joined the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Ft. Greely, AK. In 2016 he reclassified to 31B Military Police. In 2020 SGT Weiters successfully completed 31B ALC. During the course of his Military career, SGT Weiters has been awarded the following: ARCOM, AAM, ARCAM, AGCM, National Defense Service Medal, NOPDR, ASR, GWOTS M4 Carbine Expert Badge and Drivers Badge. SGT Weiters has also successfully completed EOL, MRT, and Hazmat Transportation.
49th MDB Crew Awardees
Staff Sergeant Matthew Myers
Staff Sergeant Matthew W. Myers is a native of Juneau, AK. He enlisted in the Alaska Army National Guard (AKARNG) in May of 2011. He was assigned to the One Stop Unit Training at Fort Benning, Georgia where he became an infantryman in December of 2011. Staff Sergeant Myers began his military infantryman career at CO C. 1-297TH R&S LRS, Alaska. In January 2013 he transitioned to the 297th military police company in Alaska. In October 2013, he transitioned to Alpha Company, 49th Missile Defense Battalion where he was assigned as a Military Police Officer. Staff Sergeant Myers’ prior assignments include Team Leader, Alpha Company, 49th Missile Defense Battalion, Fort Greely, Alaska; Communication Operator, HHB, 49th Missile Defense Battalion; He is currently serving as Weapons Operator, HHB, 49th Missile Defense Battalion. His military education/courses include, Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP), 11B Infantryman course, Airborne school, 31B Military Police Course, Warrior Leader Course, Combative Course Level 1, Ground Based Midcourse Defense Fire Control Qualification course, Military Police Advance Leader Course Phase 1 and Phase 2, Air and Missile Defense Crewmember Phase 1 and Phase 2, Introduction to Space. He is currently completing his bachelor’s Degree in Networking and Cybersecurity from University of Maryland Global Campus. His awards and decorations include the Army Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 2, The Army Superior Unit Award, Alaska Humanitarian Service Medal and the Army Basic Space Badge. He currently resides in Delta Junction, Alaska. He is married to Delaney Myers. They have three kids, Ryder Myers (6), Piper Myers (3) and Layla Myers (4 months).
Staff Sergeant Alberto Galicia
Staff Sergeant Alberto C. Galicia is a native of Aguada, PR. He enlisted in the Puerto Rico Army National Guard (PRARNG) in November of 2010. He was assigned to the Puerto Rico National Guard Language center to attend Pre-Basic Combat Training and the non-resident English Language Training Program. After successfully completing this course he attended the One Stop Unit Training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri where he became a Military Police Officer in February of 2012. Staff Sergeant Galicia began his military police career at 770th Military Police Company in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. In January 2013 he performed duties on State Active Duty alongside the Puerto Rico Stated Police. In September 2013 he transition to Alpha Company, 49th Missile Defense Battalion where he was assigned as a Military Police Officer. Staff Sergeant Galicia prior assignment include Team Leader, Alpha Company, 49th Missile Defense Battalion, Fort Greely, Alaska; Communication Operator, HHB, 49th Missile Defense Battalion; Squad Leader, Alpha Company, 49th Missile Defense Battalion; Battle Analyst, HHB, 49th Missile Defense Battalion. He is currently serving as Weapons Operator, HHB, 49th Missile Defense Battalion
His military education / courses include Pre-BCT English Language Course , Recruit Sustainment Program (RSP), 31B Military Police Course, Warrior Leader Course, Vindicator Command and Control Operator cours, Combative Instructor Course Level 1, None Lethal Ammunition Instructor (NLTA), Resilience Training Assistant (RTA), Ground Based Midcourse Defense Fire Control Qualification course, Military Police Advance Leader Course Phase 1 and Phase 2, Air and Missile Defense Crewmember Phase 1 and Phase 2, Ground Missile Defense GST Operator Course. Introduction to Space, Air and Missile Defense Crewmember Senior Leader Course. He is currently completing his bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from University College Online, Puerto Rico. His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral 3 Puerto Rico English Language Proficiency Ribbon, Alaska Governor’s Distinguished Unit Citation, the Army Superior Unit Award and the Army Basic Space Badge.
He currently resides in Delta Junction, Alaska. He is married to Michelle Galloza. They have three kids, Justing Alberto (11), Josean Alberto (5) and Hope Alchelsy (11 Months).
First Lieutenant Kyle Rehberg
First Lieutenant Kyle Rehberg is a native of Hainesville, IL. He enlisted in 2011 in the Florida Army National Guard in the Simulations Membership Program (SMP) and went to Basic Combat Training (BCT) at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Upon graduating BCT, he was assigned to the 1218th Transportation Company in West Palm Beach, FL. 1LT Rehberg commissioned in 2015 through the Reserved Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at Palm Beach Atlantic University as a Military Police Office and was assigned as a Platoon Leader in the 715th Military Police Company in Melbourne, FL. In 2018, 1LT Rehberg accepted a position as a Sensor Operator in HHB, 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, AK. In 2019, he transitioned to Higher Headquarters Battery (HHB), 49th Missile Defense Battalion where he is assigned as Deputy Director for Echo Crew. 1LT Rehberg’s prior assignments include: Sensor Operator, Higher Headquarters Battery, 49th Missile Defense Battalion, Fort Greely, AK; Platoon Leader, 715th Military Police Company (CS), Melbourne, FL. His military education/courses include: Introduction to Space, Ground-based Midcourse Defense Qualification Course, Air Defense Artillery Transition Course, and Military Police Basic Officer Leaders Course. He holds a Baccalaureate degree in Political Science from Palm Beach Atlantic University. His awards and decorations include: Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal, and Army Service Ribbon. He also is awarded the Basic Army Space Badge.
Captain Gilberto Ortiz
Captain Gilberto Ortiz is a native of Hormigueros, PR. He enlisted in the Puerto Rico Army National Guard (PRARNG) in August 2003 as a Military Police Soldier. In 2004 he went to One Station Unit Training (OSUT) at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Upon Graduating OSUT, he served as a driver in the 544th Military Police Company, PRARNG. In 2005, CPT Ortiz enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program at University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. After receiving his commission to 2LT in June 2007 as a Military Police Officer, he was assigned as a Platoon Leader in the 544th Military Police Company, PRARNG, and shortly after he was assigned as the company’s Executive Officer. In July 2009 he transitioned to Alpha Company, 49th Missile Defense Battalion where he was assigned as Platoon Leader. CPT Ortiz’s prior assignments include Platoon Leader, Alpha Company, 49th Missile Defense Battalion, Fort Greely, Alaska; Sensors Operator, HHB, 49th Missile Defense Battalion; Deputy Director, HHB, 49th Missile Defense Battalion and Battalion S-2, 49th Missile Defense Battalion. He is currently serving as Senior Tactical Director, HHB, 49th Missile Defense Battalion. His military education / courses include Basic Officer Leaders Course (Phase 2), Military Police Basic Officer Leaders Course (Phase 3), Cold Weather Leaders Course, Special Reaction Team Course, GMD Basic Course, Army Space Cadre Basic Course, GMD Qualification Course, Introduction to Space, Air Defense Artillery Officer Reclassification Course, Air Defense Artillery Captains Career Course, OPSEC Level 2 Certification, Security Manager Course, Special Security Officer Course, Military Intelligence Officer Transition Course.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Component Overseas Training Ribbon, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Puerto Rico English Language Proficiency Ribbon, Alaska Governor’s Distinguished Unit Citation, the Army Superior Unit Award and the Army Basic Space Badge. He currently resides in Delta Junction, Alaska. He is married to Noeliana Valentin-Hernandez of Guayama, Puerto Rico. They have two sons, Danel (12) and Dylan (4).
Major Terri Homestead
MAJ Terri Homestead of Ensenada, Mexico, enlisted into the Army Reserves as Transportation Coordinator for the 519th Transportation Detachment in Camp Pendleton, CA in 2002. In 2004, she received a Track and Field scholarship to Gardner – Webb University in Boiling Springs, NC. Here she joined ROTC and transferred to the North Carolina National Guard and commissioned in the Medical Service Corps in May 2007. MAJ Homestead earned her Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness with a Minor in Military Science. She is currently working on her Masters of Public Health thru Liberty University. MAJ Homestead graduated from the Army Medical Department (AMEDD) Basic Officer Leadership Course I & II; AMEDD Captains Career Course; Health Services Operations Intelligence, and Training Course, Fort Sam Houston TX; Human Resource Management Transition Course, Fort Gordon GA; Air Defense Artillery Officer Reclassification Course, Fort Sill, OK; and the Ground Based Midcourse Defense Fire Control Qualification Course, Colorado Springs, CO. She is currently working on completing Command and General Staff Officers Course. After commissioning, MAJ Homestead’s first assignment was as the Brigade Medical Operations Officer for the 130th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Charlotte, NC. During this time, she was also the AMEDD Recruiter for the state.
In 2008, she was assigned to Charlie Company, 230th BSB as an Evacuation Platoon Leader. In 2009-2010 she deployed as the Evacuation and Treatment Platoon Leader with the 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2011, she served in El Salvador as the Medical Operations Officer for the Beyond the Horizons joint exercise which provided humanitarian services. From 2011-2013, she served as the State Partnership Program Operations Officer in Stuttgart Germany, European Command. In 2014, she moved to Anchorage, AK where she became the Officer Strength Manager for Recruiting and Retention Battalion (RRB). In 2017, she was selected to be the Senior Tactical Director for E Crew, 49th Missile Defense Battalion, Fort Greely, AK and then as the Executive Officer for the Battalion.
In addition to her full time duties MAJ Homestead has proudly serves as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and Victim Advocate since 2010. MAJ Homestead became the first female Missile Defense Crew Director at Fort Greely and her and her crew were afforded the opportunity to execute FTG-11, the first ever salvo test of the GMD system. She is currently assigned as the Deputy Human Resources Officer for the Alaska National Guard. MAJ Homestead’s military awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with Double Bronze Star Device, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Force Reserve Service Medal with Mobilization Device, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Overseas Training Ribbon, National Guard Recruiting Badge. MAJ Homestead currently resides in Anchorage, AK with her husband Clint, son Jaxon (3), and step daughter Emily (9).
Cobra Dane Awardee
Master Sergeant Tariq Simpson
MSgt Tariq A. Simpson is the Site Chief, COBRA DANE Operations, 13th Space Warning Squadron (SWS), Joint-Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER), Alaska. Site lead for COBRA DANE missile defense radar support. Supervises one Amn towards improving quality of life, logistics, and security on a remote island location. Authorizes radar site access by verifying security clearance, need-to-know and purpose of personnel. Leads the sole Information Technology (IT) network sponsoring office by creating and maintaining user accounts for 28 maintenance and operations personnel. Directs upgrade projects by bridging communications with program office, 21st Space Wing, and Pacific Air Forces Regional Support Center (PRSC) for critical support at Eareckson Air Station (EAS), Alaska.
MSgt Simpson enlisted from Macon, Ga in January 2004 and completed the Ground Radio Communications Apprentice course in September 2004. He has 16 years of active service with experience that includes diverse duties within the Radar, Airfield, and Weather Systems (RAWS) career field on both deployable & fixed air traffic control radio communications, radar, and navigational aid systems. Prior to his current position, he was assigned as Quality Assurance (QA) Evaluator 57 Operations Support Squadron (OSS), Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nev. His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Achievement Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
Clear Air Force Station Security Forces Awardees
Staff Sergeant Matthew Dunlap
SSgt Matthew L. Dunlap is a Base Defense Operations Controller, Flight Trainer and certified Flight Sergeant assigned to the 268th Security Forces Squadron, Clear Air Force Base Alaska. SSgt Dunlap, as a Base Defense Operations Controller, provides command and control for all incidents on Clear Air Force Station, while keeping base leadership informed off all daily tasks and responses. SSgt Dunlap is entrusted to train all flight personnel on all standards and regulations to ensure each Defender is capable of caring out the mission of Clear AFS. Additionally, SSgt Dunlap serves as Unit Safety Program Representative for all Security Forces personnel.
SSgt Dunlap enlisted in the active duty Air Force in October of 2009 as a Security Forces member. He completed technical training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas he was assigned to Lajes Field Air Base, Portugal from 2010 to 2012. During his time at Lajes Field, he was selected for the installation Emergency Services Team along with assisting flight operations as a Base Defense Operations Controller. SSgt Dunlap permanently changed station to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Alaska where he worked as a Security Forces Patrolman and Alarm Monitor. Prior to SSgt Dunlap’s current position he served 2 years as an Armory Custodian and Hazardous Material Program Manager for the 673rd Security Forces Squadron. His awards and decorations include the Air Force Achievement Medal with device and the Alaska National Guard Adjutant General’s Marksmanship Proficiency Award.
SSgt Dunlap Provides force protection for Protection Level-1 Solid State Phased-Array Radar valued at $250M, $550M of supporting infrastructure, over 600 personnel on an 11,500 acre remote base, and $1.2B Long Range Discrimination Radar (LRDR) Construction project. He responded to suicide hotline call from LRDR Temporary Workers Camp and led investigation of possible intoxication and unauthorized firearms in camp living quarters; prevented loss of life–restored good order and discipline, prioritized safety of workers and residents critical to completion of LRDR defense project. Provided 500+ man hours of escort duties and oversaw circulation control during Early Warning Radar Upgrade–Maintained Security for Critical Weapons System. Conducted 82 anti-terrorism and Force Protection measures; created harder targets–deterred potential terrorist activity. Identified unauthorized un-escorted personnel and thwarted potential security incident at Solid State Phased Array Radar–identified and proposed solutions to shortfall in escort training in Restricted Area. Crafted two policy letters; streamlined squadron operations and procedures–standardized inspection process for personnel and vehicles entering the PL-1 restricted area. Conducted testing of Intrusion Detection Systems and operators; coordinated with maintenance and logistics personnel for sensor maintenance–security measures operational and functioning properly. Provided accountability for 181 Weapons and $401K in military equipment for 1st responders directly tasked with site security for MDA upgrades.
-Dedicated flight trainer; responsible for developing Security Forces Defenders–6/11 individuals exceptionally well qualified and all security personnel are trained and ready Defenders to execute Federal and State missions. Ensured all personnel adhere to Alaska statutes and installation regulations around LRDR Construction Site–safe working environment upheld. Activated advanced EMS in response to a Medical Emergency for a civilian contractor’s spouse and secured a safe route for rapid arrival of medical responders–quick reaction time led to patient’s vitals restored and saved her life.
Staff Sergeant Gersom Rivera
SSgt. Gersom Rivera is a security forces craftsman for the 268th Security Forces Squadron, 168th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard, Clear Air Force Station, Alaska. He is responsible for providing installation security and law enforcement at the 11,500 acre remote, subarctic installation, in support of the Air Force’s 24/7 ballistic missile warning/defense and space surveillance missions.
Sergeant Gersom Rivera enlisted the Puerto Rico Air National Guard in September 2006. He graduated from the Security Forces Academy, Lackland, Air Force Base and was assigned 156th Security Forces Squadron, Muniz Air National Guard Base. While assigned to the 156th SFS he deployed to Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan in December 2008 and Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates in January 2013. Later joined Clear in December 2015 and has served as one of the installation’s defenders since that time. Sergeant Rivera was selected as the Pass & Registration noncomissioned officer in charge, and is serving as the installation’s point of contact concerning fitness determination, for denial of installation access and access credentials. Sergeant Rivera is also the point of contact for the newly implemented Air Force Justice Information System in Clear AFS as well as the Unit Security Manager. Prior to his current assignment, Staff Sgt Rivera served as a Security Response Team Member for the 268th Security Forces Squadron, Clear AFS, Alaska. His awards and decorations include the Air Force Achievement Medal.
SSgt Rivera aided development of a mission essential list; provided oversight of the installation entry control process–ensured 100% compliance of COVID-19 and health protection condition protocol. He assisted critical electronic security system functions; issued 60+ restricted area badges for LRDR contractors in a five month period, keeping the restricted area badging system unhindered. He networked in newly appointed position; established comm with POCs for $1.3B MDA/USACE project which bolstered base relationships.
Clear Air Force Station Awardees
Staff Sergeant Kenneth Jewitt
Staff Sergeant Kenneth Jewitt commands operational control of a $250 million (AN-FPS-132) phased-array radar in the enlisted crew position of mission crew chief for the 213th Space Warning Squadron, His primary duties include detection and reporting of missile warning events for NORAD/NORTHCOM, while providing subject matter expertise in the field of Space Surveillance; in the processing of space launches foreign, domestic, and collecting observations on satellites assets in the battle space. Staff Sergeant Kenneth Jewitt enlisted in the Alaska Air National Guard in June of 2010 while a junior in high school in June 2010, and in his eight and a half years of service has completed upgrade training in multiple career fields ranging from space operations to law enforcement. His awards and decorations include the Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, and Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (one oak leaf cluster).
SSgt Jewitt serves as Crew Chief, Bravo Crew, 213th Space Warning Squadron, Clear AFS, AK. Upon certification in the Weapon System, SSgt Jewitt has pushed farther and faster than anyone to explore system capabilities and tactics to meet current and emerging threats. Ken was instrumental in supporting testing and the trial period of new hardware and software which led to Operational Acceptance of the Upgraded Early Warning Radar which provides Missile Warning, Missile Defense, and Space Domain Awareness for North America. Closely working with newly assigned intel personnel and a new Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, SSgt Jewitt was able to align current intel products to foreign missile testing, preparing crews for Real World Missile events. He also incorporated additional notifications and information for Cobra Dane crews, alerting them of critical Missile Defense Periods of Interest. Finally, SSgt Jewitt was responsible for up channeling two Missile Warning Site reports, providing Dual Phenomenology to the NORAD/NORTHCOM Commander ensuring accurate Missile Threat Assessments.
Captain Kevin Nelson
Capt Nelson is Chief of Operations Support, Mission Assurance and a Crew Commander in the Missile Warning Operations Center 213th SWS, Clear AFS, Alaska. Captain Nelson exercises operational control of a $250 million (AN/FPS-123) phased-array radar. His primary duties include detection and reporting of missile warning events, tracking of 8,000 low earth-orbiting satellites, tracking new foreign and domestic launches, and objects re-entering the atmosphere. Captain Nelson supports missile warning threat assessment for NORAD NORTHCOM and Space Domain Awareness for the Joint Space Operations Center. Captain Nelson enlisted into the Alaska Air National Guard in July 1997. After completing Air Force Basic Military Training, he attended the Security Forces Apprentice Course at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in 1998. As a traditional guardsman, he served as a security forces apprentice with the 168th Security Forces Squadron, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, while simultaneously working a Military Personnel Appropriation tour with the 354th Security Forces Squadron. In April 2001, he transferred to the 176th Civil Engineer Squadron, Kulis Air National Guard Base, Anchorage, Alaska, where he worked as a fire protection journeyman until July 2005. At that time, he departed the Air National Guard after completing his initial enlistment in order to focus on his civilian law enforcement career. Reenlisting in May 2009, he rejoined the 168th Security Forces Squadron, serving as a security forces apprentice. In October 2009, he was selected for commissioning as the unit’s operations officer and subsequently became the commander from June 2012 – December 2016. He graduated the Academy of Military Science at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, in December 2010 and graduated from the Security Forces Basic Officer Course at Camp Bullis, Texas, in December 2011. Captain Nelson has deployed in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. His awards and decorations include the Army Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Fold Border, Air Force Longevity Service, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with 1 “M” Device, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon (Pistol), Air Force Training Ribbon, NATO Medal, and Alaska State Service Medal.
Capt Nelson has excelled as a Crew Commander, commanding 46 flawless shifts. He was responsible for reporting 2 foreign ICBM valid site reports, tracking & cataloging 1.5K satellites, supporting 8 foreign satellite maneuvers and reacting to 30 Period Of Interest alerts. His exceptional knowledge and leadership was influential in being chosen for Officer In Charge of Operations Support Flight and primary Point Of Contact for squadron Operations Mission Assurance responsibilities.
Ted Stevens Memorial Awardee
Master Sergeant Daniel Kennett
MSgt Daniel F. Kennett is a Staff Evaluator for the 213th Space Warning Squadron, Clear Air Force Station, Alaska. The 213th Space Warning Squadron operates an AN/FPS-123 Phased Array Warning System to provide early warning of ballistic missile attack against the United States and Canada and tracking of space objects in low earth orbit for Northern and Air Force Space Commands. In this position, TSgt Kennett actively participates in standardizing training material for the crew force as well as evaluating the crew in a simulated environment to maintain the certification and proficiency of both the Early Warning Radar (EWR) and Upgraded Early Warning Radar (UEWR).
MSgt Kennett was born in Michigan. He enlisted in the Air Force in May, 2009, as an Airman First Class. He then went on to complete the technical training for 3D052 Cyber Systems Operations. In 2012 airman Kennett cross trained to the 3D151 Client Systems career field, and served the 168th ARW faithfully in this position until he was awarded a Space Systems Operations position at Clear AFS, Alaska in 2015. His awards and decorations include the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal (two oak leaf clusters), National Defense Service Medal, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, Air Force Longevity Service (one oak leaf cluster), Air Force NCO PME Graduate Ribbon, Basic Military Training Honor Graduate, and Air Force Training Ribbon.
MSgt Kennett was hand selected to Standardization and Evaluations flight and has evaluated crew performance for a 37 member multinational force ensuring members are certified to complete a no-fail mission. TSgt Kennett’s knowledge and experience were critical in developing and administering new training and evaluation scripts to certify crews to perform a new Missile Defense mission and operate a $113 million upgraded radar system. TSgt Kennett was also selected as the United States Space Force Front Range unit representative where he leveraged his experience to identify several system enhancements, coordinated new Tactics Techniques and Procedures and was able to enhance tactics for five geographically separated units.Read more
Senator Stevens and the Locked-Up Suffragists
On August 18, 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified. This amendment prohibits state and federal governments from denying the right to vote based on sex, therefore granting women the right to vote. Although at the time the main beneficiaries of the amendment were white women, in modern times the law has since come to cover all women of the nation.
What some of you may not know, is how Senator Ted Stevens ties into the story of the 19th Amendment- clearly he didn’t help pass it so how is he connected? To be fair- his involvement is actually with the Suffragists who helped create the amendment and less with the legislation itself, but he very much wanted to keep the women leaders’ legacies alive and well in the Capitol.
The story all begins back in 1921 when artist Adelaide Johnson, commissioned by the National Women’s Party, delivered her statue Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony to the U.S. Capitol for its unveiling ceremony. Unfortunately, the statue only stayed on display for a single day before Congress had it moved down to the basement- otherwise known as “the Crypt”.
It remained hidden there until 1963, when the Crypt was cleaned up and opened to the public, allowing the public to see the Suffragists for the first time in decades. But women were not content to leave the marble statue languishing in the basement.
The event that led Senator Stevens to becoming involved was actually the fourth time activists had tried to move the statue. The National Women’s Party (NWP) tried in 1995, for the 75th anniversary celebrations of the 19th Amendment’s passing, to begin again the process of convincing Congress to release the ladies. This time though, they found help.
Karen Staser, later founder of the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) and wife of Jeff Staser- a member of Senator Stevens’ staff, found herself at the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument (then the Sewell-Belmont House) and discovered information about the NWP’s efforts to move the Suffragists statue. She offered to set up a meeting between NWP organizers and Senator Stevens- who was raised by suffragists and “learned the suffrage songs as a child and would sing them at the slightest provocation.” (1)
Senator Stevens was delighted to help out and introduced S.Con. Res. 21 on July 14, 1995 (2) to authorize Congress to move the statue up from the Crypt for display in the Capitol’s Rotunda. It passed the Senate unanimously- however, the House shot it down. They did not want to authorize any public funds for the statue’s move and Speaker Newt Gingrich was especially against the statue.
According to Ann E.W. Stone, NWHM Board Member Emerita, the Speaker “was under the impression that this was a push by liberals for political reasons. I called the Speaker’s office and gave him the history of the statue, pointing out the women in the statue were all Republicans and said, ‘So, you have locked three Republican women in the basement.’” (1)
This caused negotiations to move forward, and eventually H.Con. Res. 216 (3) was agreed to on September 27, 1996. The statue could be moved, but only with private non-tax payer funds. The advocates had already begun raising money in hopes for approval, but now the race was officially on!
Senator Stevens attended fundraiser “Raise the Statue” event in Washington, D.C. on July 25, 1996 and met young activist Arlys Endres there. She was only nine years old but already very active in raising awareness for the cause. She desperately wanted to get the statue out of the basement, and sent at least 2,000 letters soliciting donations for the cause before “she finally stopped counting.” (4)
Arlys and many others managed to raise the “estimated $75,000 required to move” the statue (5) and on May 14, 1997 the monument was officially moved into the Capitol’s Rotunda where it still stands today.
Bibliography & Works Cited:
Architect of the Capitol. “Portrait Monument to Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.” Explore the Capitol Campus / Art. Accessed August 5, 2020. https://www.aoc.gov/explore-capitol-campus/art/portrait-monument-lucretia-mott-elizabeth-cady-stanton-and-susan-b
(5) Boissoneault, Lorraine. “The Suffragist Statue Trapped in a Broom Closet for 75 Years.” Smithsonian Magazine. May 12, 2017. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/suffragist-statue-trapped-broom-closet-75-years-180963274/
Deseret News. “Supporters Want to Move Suffragists’ Statue Stuck in Capitol Crypt.” Deseret News. July 3, 1996. https://www.deseret.com/1996/7/3/19252554/online-document-supporters-want-to-move-suffragists-statue-stuck-in-capitol-crypt
(1) National Women’s History Museum. “Moving the Women into the Light: An Interview with NWHM Co-Founder Ann E.W. Stone.” NWHM Article. May 23, 2017. https://www.womenshistory.org/articles/moving-women-light
(2) U.S. Congress. Senate. Directing that the “Portrait Monument”… be restored to its original state and be placed in the Capitol Rotunda. S.Con. Res. 21. 104th Cong., 1st sess. Introduced in Senate July 14, 1995. https://www.congress.gov/104/bills/sconres21/BILLS-104sconres21hds.pdf
(3) U.S. Congress. House. Providing for relocation of the Portrait Monument. H.Con. Res. 216. 104th Cong., 2nd sess. Introduced in House September 24, 1996. https://www.congress.gov/104/bills/hconres216/BILLS-104hconres216ih.pdf
(4) Webb, Dewey. “Desperately Seeking Susan B.” Phoenix New Times. March 13, 1997. https://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/desperately-seeking-susan-b-6423335
National Park Service. “Did you know? Suffragist vs Suffragette.” September 20, 2020. https://www.nps.gov/articles/suffragistvssuffragette.htm
Post by: Jolene Kennah – Archivist and Outreach CoordinatorRead more
Senator Ted Stevens interns working in the state Capitol
Featured in the UA Strong Newsletter on March 4, 2020.
University of Alaska students from across the state are working in Alaska’s Capitol as part of the Senator Ted Stevens Legislative Internship Program, which places college students in legislative offices to gain public policy and government experience firsthand.
Student Kasey Casort is featured in this video.Read more
Alaska Delegation Pays Tribute to Senator Ted Stevens
Alaska Delegation Pays Tribute to Senator Ted Stevens
Official Portrait of “Alaskan of the Century” Unveiled in U.S. Capitol
U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, all R-Alaska, today joined in celebrating the life and legacy of the late Senator Ted Stevens and his contributions to Alaska and the nation. The Alaska Congressional Delegation joined members of the Stevens family, friends, congressional colleagues, and former staff at a ceremonial unveiling of a portrait of Senator Stevens, which will be hung in the U.S. Capitol. At the time he left office, Senator Stevens was the longest-serving Republican U.S. Senator in history.
The portrait, sponsored by the U.S. Senate Commission on Art, will be part of its Senate Leadership Portrait Collection, which honors past Leaders and Presidents Pro Tempore. The portrait recognizes Senator Ted Stevens’ service as President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate from 2003 to 2007. It was painted by Dean Larson, a former intern of Senator Stevens from 1980-1981, who grew up in Palmer, Alaska.
PHOTOS: Click here for high-res photos of the unveiling.
VIDEO: Click here for video of the unveiling.
“Every American should know who Ted was and why he so clearly deserves this honor. Ted dedicated his life to public service, spending more than six decades fighting for the state and country that he loved. Ted was a World War II veteran, he helped Alaska achieve its dream of statehood, and in his forty years in this chamber, he was both a leader and a force to be reckoned with,” said Senator Murkowski. “I hope this portrait of Ted will be a daily reminder for those of us who serve here – that we can work together, even on the hardest of days; that if we do, we can achieve great things for the American people; and that sometimes, that just might require us to say ‘to hell with politics’ – just do what’s right.”
“The spirit of Ted Stevens lives with us in Congress, throughout the country, and certainly in Alaska. And now we have this beautiful painting in the Capitol—created by an exceptional Alaska artist—to reflect that spirit,” said Senator Sullivan. “Senator Stevens’ service to our country and our state is an example to all. His whole career was spent fighting for our country and for those across the globe who shared a thirst for freedom. But his true love was Alaska, and his true passion was the‘Alaskan Dream’— a dream of an Alaska with promises of the 21st century ‘springing up from the Arctic.’ An Alaska where our federal government works with us, not against us, to achieve our destiny and to develop our resources. An Alaska that lives up to the potential the country saw in it when Congress voted to allow the territory to become the 49th state. Ted Stevens brought us closer to that dream and calls on each of us to carry on his legacy and fight for the state we all love.”
“Senator Ted Stevens was my colleague and my mentor, but most importantly he was my friend. Our families were very close. We would hunt and fish together, and when we were both in Washington, D.C., we were legislative partners focused on getting things done for our great state and its people. Ted’s life was one of service to Alaska and service to his country. Ted was a quintessential public servant — he fought for our country in World War II, would go on to serve in the State Legislature, and spent the remainder of his career standing up for Alaskans in the United States Senate. He was a force to be reckoned with but was also a man of great faith and dedication to family. The day we lost Ted was a dark one for our state and country, and not a day goes by where I don’t think of my friend and his legacy. However, Ted’s family and friends can rest easily knowing that his fingerprints continue to be felt across Alaska, and his deep love of our state lives on in our young people,” said Congressman Young. “Today’s portrait unveiling is a special day for all who knew him. It is my great hope that future generations of Alaskans can look upon this portrait and be reminded of a man who gave his all to our state and country. I would like to thank everybody who worked hard to make this possible – particularly the Ted Stevens Foundation. I know Ted is looking down and is proud of everyone continuing the good work he did here on earth. May God bless Ted Stevens, his family, and all those who have been and will be inspired by Alaska’s ‘Uncle Ted.’”
Stevens devoted more than six decades of his life to public service. He served as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II, flying missions in the China-Burma-India theater in support of the Flying Tigers. He later worked at the Department of the Interior, under then-Secretary Fred Seaton, as his point man in the push for statehood for Alaska. After arriving in the Senate in 1968, Stevens went on to chair five committees and served as a member of Republican leadership for nearly a decade. His legacy includes an incredible number of measures that built Alaska and bettered America, including legislation to settle most Alaska Native land claims, enable the construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, and protect and sustain America’s fisheries.
Stevens was a staunch proponent of national security and traveled the world to visit our military men and women. As a longtime leader on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, he worked tirelessly to ensure those who serve our country in uniform had the best equipment, better pay, and needed care.
As an appropriator, Stevens secured federal funding that allowed thousands of rural Alaskans to gain access to basic water and sewer infrastructure, telemedicine, bypass mail, and essential air service. He was a strong supporter of Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act, which provides equal opportunity for women to participate in sports, and authored legislation to create the U.S. Olympic Committee.
In 2000, Stevens was voted Alaskan of the Century. The Anchorage International Airport is named for him, his beneficial impact can be seen and felt all throughout the 49th state, and Alaskans celebrate his legacy each year on Ted Stevens Day—the fourth Saturday of July.
This press release can be found online at: Senator Lisa Murkowski’s Press ReleaseRead more
50th Anniversary – Live Apollo 11 Moon Landing!
Tomorrow, July 20, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of man’s first walk on the moon.
This historical event was part of the Cold War’s Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union (USSR). The Race had begun back in 1955 when the USSR pledged to launch an artificial satellite following America’s declaration of the same. USSR successfully launched this satellite in 1957 and again beat the US to the first human in space with Yuri Gagarin’s flight in 1961. But America refused to be beaten to the moon.
The Apollo 11 mission was launched on July 16, 1969 and finally touched down on the moon on the evening of July 20, 1969. Two of the three-man crew, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. and Neil Armstrong, spent over three hours collecting samples and filming a speech for the people down on earth. The third astronaut, Michael Collins, remained on the command module Columbia that continued orbiting the moon until the lunar module Eagle’s mission was finished.
The lunar module reconnected with the command module, and all three astronauts safely returned to Earth on July 24, 1969 with a landing in the Pacific Ocean.
The landing was filmed and live streamed back to Americans in a record-breaking television event. Alaska was a part of this live stream and, for the first time ever, joined their fellow Americans in viewing a live television event.
Senators Ted Stevens and Mike Gravel, and Representative Howard Pollock, worked together to convince the US Department of Defense (DOD) to relocate a satellite to provide this live TV feed. Prior to this, all television shows in Alaska had been taped elsewhere and then shipped up to the state – there were sometimes gaps of weeks between when ‘live events’ were filmed and then shown on Alaska TV. Alaskans were used to getting the news days later than their Lower 48 compatriots.
But in 1969, thanks to cooperation between our congressional delegation, the DOD, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Alaskans were able to join in on the action at the exact same time as their fellow Americans.
This historic television event was followed in the Fall of 1969 with a Stevens-sponsored educational satellite TV programming experiment between the state and NASA, which allowed for the potential of these TV feeds to be fully showcased and the technology race officially began in the state.
Post by: Jolene Kennah – Archivist and Outreach Coordinator