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To infinity and beyond

These four JBLM airmen are making the conversion to Space Force

Staff Sgt. Luis Gomez-Santana, left, Airman 1st Class Benjamin Tran, Master Sgt. Holly Graham and 1st Lt. Donavan Moss, all from the 627th Communications Squadron, pose together Feb. 9 outside the McChord Field Theater. Photo by Bud McKay.

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - In 2005, Master Sgt. Holly Graham started her Air Force career using her hands to fly satellites for the Air Force Space Command. With a raise of her right hand Feb. 9, she enlisted into the new Space Force.

"It was awesome that I got to start my career in space," Graham said. "Now I can end my career in space."

Graham, from Rogersville, Alabama, was one of four airmen from the 627th Communications Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord who transferred to become Guardians with the Space Force at a ceremony Feb. 9 at the McChord Field Theater.

The Space Force was established Dec. 20, 2019, as the newest branch of the U.S. armed forces.

When the Space Force was first announced, there was a lot of confusion and misunderstanding. One of those confused was Staff Sgt. Luis Gomez-Santana, who is from New York City.

"I didn't get it since (the Air Force) already had a Space Command, but the more I looked into it and heard they were going to incorporate all of the services' space-related programs into just one service - it just makes sense now," Santana said before he enlisted in the Space Force. "Right now, I'm a (radio frequency) spectrum manager; I'm hoping to maintain the RFs for satellite connections. I'm just excited about the unknowns."

Airman 1st Class Benjamin Tran said he was excited from the start when he heard about the Space Force. Just one year in the Air Force, the sky is literally the limit for the native of Rockford, Illinois.

"I hope to transfer to cyber defense in the Space Force," Tran said. "I would like to be on the forefront on what we're fighting right now. I want to help maintain and protect our nation's information. I want to be on the foundation of a fledgling organization to help build up a powerful foundation to lay the ground work for the future."

While the three others from the 627th CS were enlisting into the Space Force, 1st Lt. Donavan Moss, a 2018 Air Force Academy graduate, took the oath of office for the Space Force.

"When I was at the academy, I had an affinity for space. I got to spend a summer studying the space program - it was very interesting," said Moss, who's from Atlanta. "When the Space Force opened, I just felt I wanted to start something new in the cyber world. Now I get to support space, too. It's an exciting time."

On Jan. 13, the Secretary of the Air Force selected Redstone Arsenal, in Huntsville, Alabama, as the preferred location for the U.S. Space Command's headquarters. The final determination is expected to be announced in the spring of 2023.

Huntsville is the location of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center where scientists and engineers worked on the Saturn V rockets that propelled 24 NASA astronauts to the moon from 1968 to 1972.

The location of the new U.S. Space Command headquarters caught Graham's attention.

"My grandfather worked on the Saturn V rockets in Huntsville, and my hometown of Rogersville is just 45 minutes away," Graham said. "I'll have to be sure to tell the Space Force assignment office that if they need someone to go to Huntsville, I'll go."

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