This is the real ‘never told’ story on Colorado’s doorstep—not only the big guys doing big things, but a huge story emanating from voices never heard on main street. Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado Springs, CO, in 1985 boasted ground breaking news reported in the local newspapers, but not making front page headlines elsewhere. Along the eastern side of the main road near the north gate, the once dry lot, overrun with wildflowers and weeds, became a construction site. Bulldozers and cement trucks broke ground to lay the foundation for what would house the headquarters of a newly formed military Command. Into this foundation is poured over two decades of stories telling of earnest and honest work, struggle, and remarkable innovation. Though AFSPC was officially established in 1982, its headquarters, Building 1, as it is known today, would be set upon this quiet monument in the fall of 1985, testifying to the militarization of space, and taking its place as the pinnacle of space operations for the U.S. Air Force. Does it symbolize the AF effort to reclaim its premier position in the control of militarized space arena after losing its stronghold over 20 years earlier?
I’ve had the distinct privilege of interviewing several of the AF’s space pioneers, and even a couple with Navy heritage, who started their work in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. Their personal stories describe the events and times from the perspective of those who were there to help shape and influence early American space missions; and they represent the collective group who ‘has gone before’. Most of these accounts have never been told in the public forum and have never been codified; only shared with friends or family, and sometimes not even then–these are the stories leading to the rise of Air Force Space Command as told by some of those who lived it.