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Maxwell, AU Airmen realize dreams of transferring to U.S. Space Force

Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, U.S. Space Force deputy chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber and Nuclear, leads Airmen in a ceremonial oath of office and enlistment into the Space Force during a transfer ceremony on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Feb. 2, 2021. The 110 new Guardians, who attended the ceremony in person and virtually, represented units and mission partners across the Maxwell-Gunter installation, to include Air University and the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, U.S. Space Force deputy chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber and Nuclear, leads Airmen in a ceremonial oath of office and enlistment into the Space Force during a transfer ceremony on Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, Feb. 2, 2021. The 110 new Guardians, who attended the ceremony in person and virtually, represented units and mission partners across the Maxwell-Gunter installation, to include Air University and the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. (U.S. Air Force photo by Stanley Ward)

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. --

As a young Air Force captain working the cyber operations floor at the 26th Network Operations Squadron on Gunter Annex, Hector Saunders would read whatever he could lay his hands on about space.

So, when the window opened for Air Force officers and enlisted to apply to transfer to the U.S. Space Force in early 2020, and after giving it much thought, Saunders threw his name into the ring.

As a cyber-operations officer with a background in physics, he figured the Space Force would be the best place to apply his skills and knowledge.

Now, nearly a year after applying, Saunders, who had since changed jobs to become the executive officer for the commander of the Thomas N. Barnes Center for Enlisted Education, raised his right hand on Feb. 2 to reaffirm his oath of office … to the U.S. Space Force. 

He and other Airmen assigned to units and mission partners on Maxwell, to include Air University and its Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, took the ceremonial oaths in person and virtually during a ceremony here to mark their transfer from the Air Force to the Space Force.

The 110 new Guardians were officially welcomed to the U.S. Space Force by Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, the service’s deputy chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber and Nuclear.

The general, having served 28 years in the Air Force before transferring to the Space Force, told the new Guardians that because his time in uniform is nearly over, he is going to have to pass the responsibilities of building the new service to the “next generation.”

“You are the next generation. You get to take the force as a fledgling, and you get to build literally everything about it. Its doctrine. Its ethos. Its culture. Its weapons systems. Its professional military education. You get to build it from the ground up,” he said. “You are going to get to do that for years. I am so envious. It’s a remarkable challenge. It’s a remarkable time to be in the Department of Defense, and it’s clearly a remarkable time to be a Space officer and enlisted Guardian charged with this kind of  challenge and exciting opportunity.”

It’s an opportunity that Master Sgt. Desiree Laughlin couldn’t pass up. She, too, like Saunders, applied for the Space Force in early 2020.

The 18-year veteran, who is a first sergeant for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center on Gunter, said her background as an electronic signals analyst brought her into contact with Air Force space operations throughout her career. She said she decided to apply for the Space Force because of its seemingly limitless possibilities, just “like the galaxies.”

“I look forward to being a part of the Space Force and exploring those possibilities,” she said.

Perhaps by sheer coincidence, or because the stars were aligned just so, Laughlin signed the paperwork that finalized her entry into the Space Force on Feb. 4, the same date that she first signed the paperwork for entry into the Air Force nearly two decades ago.

For Saunders, taking the ceremonial oath that moved him from the Air Force to the Space Force seemed a little otherworldly.

“It was a little surreal,” he said. “You think about the first time you did it with the Air Force, and now you’re doing it again. So, it’s like, this is happening. I’m literally no longer part of the Air Force, I’m now part of Space Force. We get a fresh start. Semper Supra!”