F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE –The Air Force Association recognized the 321st Missile Squadron with the 2020 Gen. Thomas S. Power Outstanding Missile Crew Award on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, May 2020.
The award recognizes Capt. Christian Heath and 1st Lt. Juan Navarro, 321 MS combat crew, as the best missile combat crew in the Air Force.
“It is a humbling experience,” Heath said. “We couldn’t have done it without our peers’ and leaderships’ support. In the end, it’s just confirmation that we were surrounding ourselves with a network of amazing people and improving ourselves along the way.”
AFA recognizes the best missile combat crew in Air Force Global Strike Command annually with this award. General Power was commander-in-chief of Strategic Air Command from 1957 to 1964. He was the father of SAC’s intercontinental ballistic missile force and was directly involved in the planning and deployment of the Atlas, Titan and Minuteman ICBMs.
In the last year, Heath and Navarro distinguished themselves by leading the squadron through cryptographic code change, updating 55 nuclear command nodes in four days, enabling the deployment and training for 89 personnel, 480 deployments and 150 missile training events, and performing 3,800 alert hours in support of the nation’s defense.
Navarro attributes the success to his team and unit.
“I feel very honored,” Navarro said. “We are being recognized as a crew but it is truly a whole squadron effort working in unison toward a common goal.
As a combat team, both members learned from one another.
“At no time was it like a senior to junior ranked person but like a team working together to carry out the mission seamlessly,” Navarro said. “Whenever we were pulling crew together, no matter how stressful, the situation was Captain Heath always looking on the brighter side of things. That taught me a very valuable lesson: Leaders, even if they are under stress, have to ensure to inspire confidence in their people.”
Heath owes part of his success to seeing others succeed.
“My motivation to excel comes from my innate want to better myself and to help others succeed,” Heath said. “To be honest I am selfish due to this. Meaning, it brings me joy to help others and witness their successes and triumphs in life. I want this feeling more often than not.”
As a combat crew, they understand the level of responsibility given to them as missileers.
“We are seeing a shift in the balance of power that requires certain strategic actions,” Navarro said. “I believe ICBM missiles provide not only strategic deterrence but that assurance to all of our allies that we can protect them.”