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Guardian Challenge members come home

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Members of the Team Minot Guardian Challenge team are greeted by (left to right) Col. Greg Tims, 91st Operations Group commander, Col. Paul Bell, 5th Bomb Wing vice commander,  and Col. Marty Whelan, 91st Space Wing commander, as they step off a C-17  here Saturday after the week-long competition in Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Danny Monahan)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Members of the Team Minot Guardian Challenge team are greeted by (left to right) Col. Greg Tims, 91st Operations Group commander, Col. Paul Bell, 5th Bomb Wing vice commander, and Col. Marty Whelan, 91st Space Wing commander, as they step off a C-17 here Saturday after the week-long competition in Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Danny Monahan)

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Members of the Team Minot Guardian Challenge team were greeted by leaders, family and friends when they returned home Saturday from the week-long competition at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

Guardian Challenge is a competition to demonstrate the effectiveness of Air Force Space Command Airmen's training and procedures. Teams are evaluated against stringent criteria and standards developed by Air Force Space Command. 

Team Minot may not have won the coveted Gen. William H. Blanchard Trophy awarded to the best space intercontinental ballistic missile wing team, but they put forth a first-rate effort.

"We had a great team of everyday heroes from the 91st SW and 5th BW who went to Colorado Springs to show the world that 'Only the Best Come North,'" said Col. Marty Whelan, 91st Space Wing commander. "Our Guardian Challenge team lived up to our expectations and made the whole base proud.  The lasting impression was that people from Team Minot compete hard, compete fair, and leave everything they have on the field of competition.  We may not have won the Blanchard, but we won the respect of everyone at this year's Guardian Challenge." 

The 91st SW commander went on to say that he is proud of the team's performance, passion and professionalism demonstrated while at Guardian Challenge." 

"Each Team Minot member who participated in Guardian Challenge was able to take with them the pride that our nation and our leaders have in the military," said Colonel Whelan. "The civilian distinguished visitors from Minot and across the nation were overwhelmed by the skill and competitiveness of our warriors.  The huge smile on the face of Gen. Kevin Chilton [AFSPC commander] as he watched our security forces team complete the obstacle course displayed the pride our leaders have in the entire team." 

One member who did not come home empty-handed was Staff Sgt. James Weeks; the 91st Missile Maintenance Squadron mechanical shop team chief won a Guardian Challenge award for best mechanical shop in AFSPC and said the experience was very memorable. 

"We were treated really well during Guardian Challenge," said Sergeant Weeks. "Where else can you show off your skills in your job and get rewarded a week of fun, relaxation, and partying with other groups that you wouldn't normally associate with on a daily basis?" 

Though it was an AFSPC competition, the Warbirds also lent a helping hand and took part in all of the festivities. 

"I enjoyed Guardian Challenge," said Senior Airman Thomas Hawthorn, 5th Communications Squadron. "I was able to get more in depth into my job and the 91st SW included me in all their activities. It felt pretty good to be a Rough Rider and I can't wait to try out next year." 

When the team members came home, they kept up their boisterous attitudes just as they had while in Colorado Springs. During the week Team Minot out-cheered every other team. 

"Team Minot was loud!  We were banging our Bully Sticks and out-shouting every other team," said Colonel Whelan. "The way the helicopter team, maintainers, communicators and operators pulled together to cheer on our security forces team created a bond that only made our team stronger.  The result is we have professionals who want to know more about each other's jobs. These are the leaders we are developing for the Air Force." 

Teams included missile combat operations crews, satellite operations crews, remote space-tracking crews, security forces, helicopter, missile and space launch maintainers, code controllers, and missile communications crews. All of them demonstrated their capabilities to a team of evaluators, but they also demonstrated the Air Force's space power to the world.
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