Six Air Force officers are sworn in as the first Space Force ‘Guardians’ on Maui


The Maui Space Surveillance Complex, which belonged to Air Force Space Command, is home to several telescopes that track objects orbiting the earth, such as satellites and space debris. The complex is located 10,000 feet above sea level on top of Haleakala, a dormant volcano on the island, that is also considered one of the best places on Earth to view space from.

William Cole

The Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Feb. 9—Six Air Force officers on Maui have become the first Space Force “Guardians ” on the Hawaiian isle, according to the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Space Force is the newest service branch under the Department of Defense. In December, then-Vice President Mike Pence announced that personnel in the Space Force would be called Guardians alongside soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines.

Space Force, the first new armed force since the establishment of the Air Force in 1947, was a Trump administration initiative. Enacting legislation was signed on Dec. 20, 2019.

The six officers assigned to the Directed Energy Directorate Air Force Maui Optical and Supercomputing site joined more than 2, 400 airmen across the nation transferring from the U.S. Air Force to the U.S. Space Force, “making them the first Space Force Guardians on the Hawaiian island, ” the Air Force Research Laboratory said today.

The Space Force mission is to protect U.S. and allied interests in space, and provide game-changing space capabilities to its forces.

Lt. Col. John Zingarelli, commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Detachment 15, spoke to the new Guardians on Maui on Feb. 1 prior to delivering the oath of office.

“As a new member of the Space Force, your mission here does not change, ” Zingarelli said. “You will continue to lead the discovery and development of critical space technologies for our nation.”

Although Detachment 15 is a small unit, the work accomplished on Haleakala Summit “is critical to U.S. space domain awareness, and to providing a strategic advantage in space, ” the research lab said.

Before taking the oath of office, each of the new Guardians exchanged their Air Force insignia for the Space Force insignia.

“As a native Hawaiian, it’s exciting to have a (Space Force ) presence here, ” Capt. Cody Felipe, one of those sworn in, said in a release. “It’s a great opportunity and exciting to be a part of history, especially for Det. 15, as the island’s first Space Force members.”

After Felipe graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy, he broadened his experience in space operations at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

“I realized that the space mission, and the space business was only going to continue to grow, and knew that it was a great opportunity to broaden my various skill sets, ” Felipe said.


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