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    SMDC senior enlisted leader recognizes outstanding Soldiers

    SMDC recognizes Soldiers contributions during pandemic

    Photo By Mikayla Mast | Command Sgt. Maj. Finis A. Dodson, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command command...... read more read more



    Story by Mikayla Mast 

    U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command

    REDSTONE ARSENAL, ALABAMA – The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Army operations, driving change throughout the force to ensure missions continue and to prioritize team members’ safety, and for many Army employees, this meant stepping up, taking on new roles or putting in extra hours to address impacts.

    Command Sgt. Maj. Finis A. Dodson, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command command sergeant major, is recognizing Soldiers for their actions to maintain and increase readiness, as well as their professional growth and achievements during the escalation of the coronavirus.

    “It’s important to recognize those who are going above and beyond to ensure our mission readiness and increase morale during these defining times,” Dodson said. “I will recognize each of the selected individuals who have made major contributions to our team during this time with an Army Achievement Medal and a USASMDC challenge coin for their excellence.”

    The following Soldiers are recognized for their contributions to USASMDC to ensure readiness and take care of their team members during these unprecedented times.

    * Staff Sgt. Christopher Bloomquist (100th Missile Defense Brigade)

    At the beginning of the COVID-19 escalation, Bloomquist expedited his training in the GMD as a T-3 additional crew member back up, while maintaining his intelligence duties and preparing the 100th Missile Defense Brigade for the Army Combat Fitness Test. He has trained Soldiers to administer and grade the ACFT and led the effort to physically prepare his fellow Soldiers by implementing weekly ACFT at-home preparation physical therapy sessions.

    * Staff Sgt. Cirilo Dejesus (Headquarter, Headquarter Company, 53rd Signal Battalion)

    Dejesus took the lead on ordering needed medical supplies and Meals Ready to Eat. He tracked, received and inventoried these supplies to prepare them for distribution to the units around the Colorado Springs area. His actions contributed to the increased readiness of the 53rd Signal Battalion S4 shop to continue to support their globally dispersed units.

    * Staff Sgt. Lakell F. Finch (Headquarter, Headquarter Company, 1st Space Battalion)

    As the only government purchase card holder in the battalion, Finch is responsible for making emergency mission essential purchases with limited notice, requiring hours of after duty research. Most recently Finch has worked tirelessly with local agencies and the Army Contracting Command to ensure timely purchases of COVID-19 supplies. He has established sanitization stations at multiple buildings on Fort Carson, Colorado, to ensure the safety and well-being of more than 400 personnel, while simultaneously overseeing company-level inventories.

    * Staff Sgt. Brian J. Frick (Company C, 53rd Signal Battalion)

    Frick stepped into the role of squad leader without notice, juggling schedules, personnel and COVID-19-related changes, while still working as crew chief. He helped Company C and the 53rd Signal Battalion validate tables for the Satellite Control Certification Assessment Readiness program. These changes are driving the training requirements and certifications during USASMDC’s operational readiness exercises for upcoming years.

    * Sgt. John C. Gibson (Company B, 53rd Signal Battalion)

    With the help of his family, Gibson handcrafted 22 masks for members of the company and 30 masks for members of the 55th Signal Company who were serving as COVID-19 building screeners for buildings across Fort Meade, Maryland. Gibson sacrificed personal time to ensure communication security is available during the COMSEC vaults limited hours of operation during COVID-19.

    * Spc. Miguel A. Hernandez (1st Space Brigade)

    Hernandez was critical to the production of unclassified intelligence products and maintaining operational capabilities during the pandemic. He ensured other Soldiers, noncommissioned officers and officers in 1st Space Brigade had access to critical information to aid in the operational decision making process. He has also cross-trained and mentored other intelligence Soldiers in the brigade. In addition, Hernandez completed the Ballistic Missile Intelligence Course, to aid in intelligence production, and the Combat Lifesaver Course.

    * Sgt. Jeremy Kiefer (10th Missile Defense Battery)

    As the only Army medic for the 10th Missile Defense Battery, Kiefer has been instrumental in planning, coordinating and executing the battery’s coronavirus response efforts. He ensures the temperature screening site is adequately supplied with vital protective equipment and that screening personnel are trained to prevent the spread of the virus. He assisted in making plans for decontamination in the event of a positive case, and he keeps leadership expertly apprised of the spread of the virus and its potential impacts on the mission.

    * Sgt. Calvin LaChance (Company E, 53rd Signal Battalion)

    LaChance was selected to function as the payload controller master trainer at the Fort Buckner, Okinawa, Wideband Satellite Communications Operations Center and has proven he is committed to increasing the technical proficiency of all Company E payload controller operators by ensuring tasks are performed at the highest standard. He developed a comprehensive six-week training program that is accelerating eight Soldiers through the qualification process. He is also providing unqualified Soldiers with the opportunity to obtain extensive hands-on experience with the global SATCOM command and control equipment graphical user interface and hardware through practical and realistic hands-on scenarios, which surpasses previous training methods.

    * Sgt. Devon Lenz (U.S. Army Satellite Operations Brigade, Regional Satellite Communications Support Center-Pacific)

    Lenz coordinated support for ongoing naval airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions and COVID-19 support activities occurring in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility. He has provided short notice satellite communications support to the 3rd Marine Logistics Group staging Expeditionary Medical Facilities in support of the Task Force 75 commander in Guam. His support of MQ-4C Triton in the Pacific covered two operational areas simultaneously with nearly complete coverage. Embracing the Army value of duty, Lenz took it upon himself to integrate and train the newest staff sergeant in the unit.

    * Staff Sgt. Felix Loperena (Regional Satellite Communications Support Center-West)

    Loperena has coordinated for both the USNS Mercy and other COVID-19 support activities occurring in the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command area of responsibility. He has also provided short notice support to defense support of civil authorities operations related to relief activities in Guam. Loperena also embraced the Army value of selfless service by providing meals to the family of a teammate whose wife recently gave birth to their third child.

    * Sgt. Jeremy K. Lumsden (Company A, 53rd Signal Battalion)

    Lumsden took a call from the USNS Mercy, anchored off the coast of Southern California, to provide COVID-19 medical support and worked diligently to identify and correct an issue preventing them from utilizing super high frequency communications. Within an hour, he effectively communicated the current situation, issues at hand and recommended fix action to RSSC mission planners and had the situation resolved and the Mercy passing data across their SHF communication link.

    * Staff Sgt. Imari D. Mars (HHC, 1st Space Brigade)

    Mars supported 1st Space Brigade’s mission during COVID-19 ordering more than 9,000 face masks, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies, ensuring the brigade had everything it needed to continue operations. She also turned in more than $74,000 worth of excess equipment and has overhauled the company's supply request process. Mars provides cross-training, mentorship and leadership development opportunities to the active Guard Reserve unit supply Soldiers, and currently mentors the supply clerk for 8th Space Company. She has made monthly inventories a success while teleworking, completed the Equal Opportunity Leaders course on Fort Carson and is currently the Equal Opportunity representative for the company. She is also the company retention NCO and has maintained the brigade’s barrack Soldiers in enterprise military housing.

    * Staff Sgt. Johnathan B. Mease (11th Missile Defense Battery, Sensor Management Cell)

    Ready to complete a permanent change of station, Mease was notified one day prior to scheduled departure that he was to stop movement and reintegrate back into the unit. Mease revamped the 11th Missile Defense Battery Sensor Management Cell training program, assisted in the Table VII certification of four crews, and cross-trained one individual from the 13th Missile Defense Battery SMC serving as an augmentee to certify on the 11th Missile Defense Battery mission. Mease maintained a positive attitude and consistently mentored subordinate Soldiers. Mease’s resiliency increased morale during a difficult time by setting the example for others to emulate.

    * Sgt. Hollie J. Murr (100th Missile Defense Brigade)

    Murr was instrumental in executing a short notice Soldier Readiness Program, validating and updating all personnel records including power of attorney for more than 45 guardsmen who are mission essential crew members, allowing them to quickly sequester during the COVID-19 pandemic. Murr was able to adapt quickly to new and unprecedented circumstances and completed all requirements while teleworking, ensuring each crew member’s health and safety was preserved to the fullest extent possible.

    * Sgt. Dillion M. Phelps (Company D, 53rd Signal Battalion)

    Phelps demonstrated excellence and a dedication to maintain Company D’s organizational readiness during the COVID-19 pandemic by filling in for the company supply sergeant procuring critical cleaning supplies, preparing the supplies for use at key locations and ordering more supplies. He also maintained the unit property book and successfully fielded the company’s ACFT equipment, duties outside of his actual military occupational specialty.

    * Staff Sgt. Denise N. Ronneburg (100th Missile Defense Brigade)

    With the low supply for protective masks in response to the COVID-19 virus, Ronneburg made masks to ensure the health and welfare of the missile defense element crews and staff serving in the brigade and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment in the Colorado Springs, Colorado, area.

    * Sgt. 1st Class Andrew L. Ross (1st Space Brigade)

    Ross ensured the brigade processes were streamlined to provide solid, up-to-date, government cell phone communication capabilities for key brigade and battalion staff members to enable and support teleworking procedures. Ross supports other Soldiers, NCOs and officers within the brigade on current applications to support teleworking requirements such as DCS and Microsoft Teams. Ross was crucial in helping implement means of providing helpdesk support to all Soldiers through the brigade S-6 virtual helpdesk. He has recently completed the SHARP Fundamentals Course on Fort Carson and will serve as a victim advocate for the brigade.

    * Spc. Ayleen A. Santos (1st Space Brigade)

    Santos was instrumental in acquiring more than $9,000 of supplies and equipment to support the unit during the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as essential end items such as tents, cots and generators. These actions helped increase and preserve readiness and prevent the risk of transmission amongst both the military and civilian personnel working within 1st Space Brigade’s footprint on Fort Carson. Santos also contributed to the brigade’s resiliency by purchasing more than $400 in food items for the Spiritual Fitness Cookout. Her procurement of these items enhanced spiritual fitness and boosted morale for the barracks and single Soldiers.

    * Staff Sgt. Zachary T. Sheely (100th Missile Defense Brigade)

    As the 100th Missile Defense Brigade’s public affairs noncommissioned officer, Sheely utilized social media to disseminate messages from the brigade commander, as well as capturing and highlighting Soldiers in the "new" daily norm as they work from home and juggle many new tasks. Sheely has continued supporting all Soldiers located in the Colorado Springs area by assisting with Department of the Army photos and media support while maintaining efficiency on the Missile Defense Elementsystem.

    * Staff Sgt. Jacob A. Soliz (1st Space Brigade)

    On his own initiative, Soliz has networked his legal section with other legal teams in Colorado, Alabama, South Korea and Japan during the COVID-19 period to enable seamless legal support to outlying subordinate units to overcome restrictions requiring nearly all operations be completed by telework. Soliz has also provided his legal acumen, organization and problem solving skills outside his required duties to the USASMDC Headquarters and Headquarters Company, the Satellite Operations Brigade and the 100th Missile Defense Brigade resulting in successful legal actions for each unit.

    * Sgt. Ivan Soria (14th Missile Defense Battery)

    As a military police NCO serving as a training NCO assigned to Kyogamisaki Communication Site, Soria maintains the unit’s training schedule and ensures all training records are promptly recorded in the Digital Training Management System. Soria also serves as one of the unit’s master resilience trainers, ensuring all Soldiers in the unit receive outstanding instruction on mental toughness and resiliency. He continues to provide recommendations for the unit to maintain readiness while following directives to minimize COVID-19 transmission.



    Date Taken: 07.30.2020
    Date Posted: 07.30.2020 12:59
    Story ID: 374892

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