Compiled by Bryan Grossman and Helen Lewis
Springs native named Navy band’s sailor of the year
Musician 1st Class Adele Demi was recently named the United States Navy Band’s 2022 Sailor of the Year. The award distinguishes the Colorado Springs native from 94 competitive peers of equal rank across the command.
Before joining the Navy, Demi earned a Bachelor of Music Education and a Master of Music in clarinet performance from the University of Northern Colorado. She joined the United States Navy Band in 2012 as a clarinet instrumentalist following the completion of basic training. In addition to her primary duty, she conducted the Ceremonial Band on NBC’s Today Show during a broadcast highlighting women in the military, lead a seven-member audition team for a national talent search that successfully filled 17 crucial billet vacancies, and served as enlisted conductor for the Concert Band on six national tours. Recognized for her leadership ability, military qualifications and technical expertise, Demi was selected for a commission as a limited duty officer on Feb. 17. She will commission as a Navy bandmaster in October — becoming one of nearly 30 in the entire Navy.
Hickenlooper, Bennet Push for Space National Guard
U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet joined a bipartisan group of their Senate colleagues last week to introduce the Space National Guard Establishment Act. The bill would establish a Space National Guard, bringing current Air National Guard and Army National Guard members performing space-related duties within the Space Force command structure.
When the Space Force was established in 2019, active-duty service members responsible for space missions were moved out of the Air Force and placed under the authority of the Space Force. However, no corresponding change was made to ensure that National Guard members working on space also fall under Space Force authority. The proposed legislation would correct this organizational inconsistency.
According to a news release from Hickenlooper’s office, the Department of the Air Force, Space Force, and the National Guard Bureau have already developed a plan to establish a Space National Guard, but that plan has yet to be implemented. Currently, more than 1,000 National Guard members are performing space-related duties from within the Air National Guard. However, organizational problems consistently arise now that all other space service members fall under the Space Force. A dedicated National Guard for the Space Force would help talented active-duty Space Force personnel transition to civilian careers, ensuring they are able to continue serving their country as well as their states. This bill would also streamline funding, and allow for better implementation of the mobilization processes, inspection systems, and policies and culture of the Space Force.
National Symposium: Medal of Honor speakers, laser show
Medal of Honor recipients spoke with cadets and visitors from multiple service academies as part of kick-off activities at the United States Air Force Academy’s 30th Annual National Character and Leadership Symposium, which took place Feb. 22-24. Opening day activities also included a laser light show in the cadet area.
Speakers and panelists addressed the theme: “Reimagine Leadership and Inspire Teamwork.” The three-day symposium provided opportunities for service academy cadets, midshipman, faculty, and visiting college and university students “to hear diverse speakers and join group discussions in person or through an online platform,” according to an Academy-issued news release. Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard M. Clark addressed the symposium Feb. 23.
“For the last 30 years, NCLS has served as an amazing opportunity for fresh perspectives and elevated conversations about what it truly means to be a leader of character,” Clark said in the release.
NCLS speakers and panelists included Gen. Charles Q. Brown, U.S. Air Force chief of staff; Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, U.S. Space Force chief of space operations; Jared Isaacman, Polaris Dawn space mission commander; Dion Leonard, author and ultra-runner; and Jen Griswold, Boss Lady Bio founder and CEO.
Springs native serves on combat ship
Colorado Springs native Chief Petty Officer Zachary Sund serves the U.S. Navy aboard one of the country’s most versatile combat ships, USS Charleston, operating out of San Diego, California.
Sund joined the Navy more than 18 years ago, after attending Doherty High School and graduating from Sterling High School.
“I joined the Navy for educational opportunities, for service and for a sense of patriotism,” he says. “I was in high school when 9/11 happened, and that sparked the interest for me to join as well.
“I grew up in a very diverse neighborhood,” Sund adds. “The Navy is a huge cultural melting pot, so having that background made it easy for me to integrate into the Navy.”
Charleston is an Independence-variant littoral combat ship — a fast, optimally-manned, mission-tailored surface combatant that operates in near-shore and open-ocean environments, according to Navy officials. Littoral combat ships integrate with joint, combined, manned and unmanned teams to support forward-presence, maritime security, sea control, and deterrence missions around the globe.
Littoral combat ships lead manned-unmanned teams using unmanned aerial systems like the Fire Scout and Expeditionary Ordnance Disposal forces unmanned underwater vehicles. They conduct forward and maritime security missions, and also strengthen partnerships through port visits in small island nations like Tahiti and Fiji due to their shallow-depth hull.
According to Navy officials, the path to becoming an LCS sailor is unique and challenging. At the culmination of their intense and realistic 18-month training pipeline, sailors qualify on a virtual reality simulator that is nearly identical to the ship, so they can execute their roles and responsibilities immediately upon stepping on board.