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    A Ground-based Midcourse Defense Pioneer Says Farewell

    A Ground-based Midcourse Defense Pioneer Says Farewell

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Zachary Sheely | Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jon Siers, the senior command and control systems integrator...... read more read more

    VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, CA, UNITED STATES

    07.09.2020

    Story by Staff Sgt. Zachary Sheely 

    U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command

    VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California – John Wayne once said “Talk low, talk slow and don’t say too much.”

    It is a quote that perfectly describes U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Jon Siers, the senior command and control systems integrator for Detachment 1 of the 100th Missile Defense Brigade (Ground-based Midcourse Defense) at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

    Siers is hanging up his combat boots following a 35-year Army career that began in 1982 when he was trained as a Hawk Missile System radar repairman. Siers is officially retiring later this year, and he was honored during a virtual farewell ceremony held at the Detachment 1 headquarters July 8.

    “I never thought 35 years would go by so fast,” Siers said. “From a young age I dreamed of joining the Army. I think old John Wayne movies influenced my decision to enlist. One of his quotes that I always remember is ‘Life is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.’ I think the reason that quote stands out is from talking to people around the country, there is a misconception among many that if you joined the Army, you must be stupid.

    “That couldn’t be further from the truth,” Siers said. “Some of the smartest people I know are Army Soldiers.”

    Siers began his career on the Hawk, a medium range, surface-to-air guided missile that provided air defense coverage against low-to-medium-altitude aircraft and said he has worked with almost every air and missile defense system in the Army.

    “I tell the younger Soldiers that the Hawk missile system is now in the museums if they want to go learn about it,” Siers said laughing.

    He concludes his service having spent the past 15 years working with the sophisticated Ground-based Midcourse Defense Missile System designed to intercept intercontinental ballistic missiles in space. The GMD mission is largely technical, and warfighter expertise is needed to effectively operate the fire control system to launch an interceptor missile at a hostile warhead, on order.

    “GMD is kind of like the Cadillac of missile systems,” said Siers. “You don’t have to roll it out and set it up. There is less logistical stress in that regard, but the technology is leaps and bounds ahead of what I was used to.”

    The Army warrant officer is a highly specialized expert and trainer is his or her field. With the persuasion of other warrant officers in his unit and wanting new challenges, Siers joined the Warrant Officer Cohort in 1995 as a South Carolina National Guard Soldier in the 263rd Air and Missile Defense Command. It was there where he learned of a full-time National Guard position in the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, Alaska.

    Siers applied for the position and was hired, so it was north to Alaska for him, his wife, Susan, and their son, Chance, in 2005 where they spent the next eight years.

    “I have seen this system continuously evolve and I feel like I’ve evolved with it,” said Siers. “When I first got to Fort Greely there were four (ground-based interceptors) in the ground. Now there are 40.”

    After working in the 49th Missile Defense Battalion at Fort Greely, Siers moved his family to Vandenberg Air Force Base in 2013 to serve as the senior systems integrator in Detachment 1.

    Siers was responsible for coordination between the Missile Defense Agency GMD program, Boeing and the warfighters of Detachment 1. He also established new Army jobs on operational equipment at Vandenberg.

    “I was kind of like an operations officer,” said Siers. “I trained all of the operators on their functions and interactions with the contractors.”

    Siers essentially developed the program for Detachment 1, said Col. Chris Williams, 100th Missile Defense Brigade commander.

    “His personal contributions to the development of the GMD architecture will have a long-lasting effect on the GMD mission,” Williams said. “He established what a GMD warrant officer should be. He established subject matter expertise for all who will follow in his footsteps.

    “How do we replace Jon Siers?” Williams pondered. “The obvious answer is that we cannot. We must invest in and develop our warrant officers. Hopefully, they will glean the wealth of knowledge Jon has accumulated over the past several years in maintenance, tactics, techniques and procedures, evaluations, fostering relationships with our stakeholders, etc.”

    Siers has mentored the many Soldiers who have rotated in and out of Detachment 1, inspiring many to pursue officer and warrant officer appointments themselves. Perhaps his most astute protégé is his son, Chance, who is going to study engineering at the University of Alabama at Huntsville in the fall.

    “I try to challenge him, but it’s hard because he’s so smart,” Siers said.

    As he steps away from the military, Siers offered this advice: “It’s all worth it in the end.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.09.2020
    Date Posted: 07.09.2020 15:25
    Story ID: 373630
    Location: VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, CA, US 
    Hometown: HUNTSVILLE, AL, US

    Web Views: 68
    Downloads: 0
    Podcast Hits: 0

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