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By Airman 1st Class Brooke Wise, 21st Space Operations Squadron
/ Published April 09, 2021
Stephen Ramirez, Delta 6, 21st Space Operations Squadron mission assurance officer, talks about his U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space force career and how he balances life with family and hobbies at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Ramirez never misses an opportunity to better himself as a father and an employee, and enjoys attending leadership classes. (U.S. Space Force Graphic by Airman 1st Class Brooke Wise)
Stephen Ramirez, Delta 6, 21st Space Operations Squadron mission assurance officer, talks about his U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space force career and how he balances life with family and hobbies at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Ramirez never misses an opportunity to better himself as a father and an employee, and enjoys attending leadership classes. (U.S. Space Force courtesy photo)
Stephen Ramirez, 21st Space Operations Squadron mission assurance officer, has been serving his country for over three decades, beginning with his U.S. Air Force enlistment in 1987.
Ramirez began his career in the Air Force with job security and stability in mind. Employment in his hometown of Muskegon Heights, Michigan, was low in the late ‘80s, and he was looking to make a living. What began as a means to an end soon blossomed into a long and successful career.
“It was kind of strange for the first few years because my family and I thought it would be ‘four years and done’,” Ramirez explained. “They would constantly ask me when I was getting out and coming home. Fast forward 20 years and I was retiring in 2007.”
After retiring from the military as a master sergeant, Ramirez worked as a government contractor for three years before he became a government civilian in 2011. He now works for the 21st SOPS, a U.S. Space Force geographically separated squadron of Space Delta 6, located at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.
Ramirez is now responsible for leading a mission support team and providing critical services to the Satellite Control Network and GPS. His team’s efforts result in the fortification of the squadron sites and ensure continuous space access to over 108 Department of Defense and civilian spacecraft. Additionally, he is responsible for the oversight of 300,000 square feet of facilities, back-up power systems and 10,000 equipment items valued at $10 million supporting the $6.8 billion Satellite Control Network.
“This job allows me to work in many different areas and disciplines, from facilities management to cyber support,” Ramirez continued. “Every day there are new challenges ranging from contract management to critical communication projects. I find this diversity of work to be both challenging and also energizing. I truly enjoy coming into work every day, giving my best effort, working with the team and making mission impacting contributions.”
Ramirez’s coworker, Marcella Rivera, 21st Satellite Operations Squadron remote tracking station site support, described the passion he has for the job.
“Mr. Ramirez is a workaholic, but in a good way,” said Rivera. “He is dedicated to making 21st SOPS shine as a squadron. He ensures that all personnel, whether military, civilian or contractor, work as one team. Mr. Ramirez leaves his ego at the door. All he does is for the betterment and advancement of 21st SOPS and its personnel.”
Ramirez said that there are many captivating aspects of his job, but that his favorite part is the human engagement.
“I thoroughly enjoy working with all the people supporting and operating the Satellite Control Network at every level,” said Ramirez. “I also enjoy helping 21st SOPS team members receive recognition for their efforts. [I’m] proud that many of our members have been recognized at the squadron and delta levels for awards.”
As much as Ramirez values his people, they value him equally. U.S. Space Force Lt. Col. Samuel Oppelaar III, 21st SOPS commander, detailed the impact that Ramirez has on his peers.
“Mr. Ramirez is the main reason most of the people come to work each day with a positive attitude,” Oppelaar said. “He is always thinking about the morale and general welfare of everyone in the squadron. [He] is the type of person you want on your team. He cares for his fellow Airmen and Guardians while always finding a way to accomplish the mission.”
As successful as Ramirez’s career has been, no one becomes an outstanding professional overnight. Ramirez attributes much of his insight and knowledge to the many commanders and co-workers he’s worked with during his service.
“Throughout my career the majority of my positions have been in close proximity to commanders,” Ramirez explained. “I have found that each and every commander has provided me valuable mentorship, leadership insight and examples of unwavering professionalism.”
Ramirez’s working relationship with his mentors has been give-and-take. For everything Ramirez gains from those above him, they gain from him as well.
“Over the last two years we have formed a close professional, working relationship,” Oppelarr said. “He is my trusted advisor and brings a unique and needed perspective to our discussions.”
Ramirez’s accomplishments are not only credited to his hard work and the guidance of his mentors. He explained that partial credit is owed to one very important person.
“I have been married to my beautiful wife, Griselda, since July 1994, going on 27 years,” said Ramirez. “We have three children: Gabriella, Alexis and Diego. I have been very fortunate to have such a loving and supportive wife who has tackled the majority of the parenting responsibilities while I was at work. She has been incredible, which has allowed me to focus on my job and supporting the missions.”
Even with the demands of a full-time job, Ramirez never neglects to make time for his family and hobbies. Away from the office, he enjoys working out, hiking with his wife and their dog, Chester, and spending time with his family and friends at local wineries.
“I am [also] a huge comic book nerd,” he explained. “I still have my collection; four big boxes! I love superhero movies and I miss the excuse of dressing up as a superhero for Halloween now that my children are older.”
During his free time, Ramirez also continues to seek out opportunities to better himself as a mentor and a leader. He is currently enrolled in an Air Force leadership course and a Six Sigma Green Belt course, a class designed to improve on leadership and management skills. He explained that his work ethic is inspired by a quote from former President Theodor Roosevelt:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcomings…”
“I think this quote sums up the value of actually participating, being in the fight and walking the talk,” Ramirez explained. “Being an active leader and team member ensures you can relate with your team and demonstrates your commitment through actions, not just words.”
It is evident that Ramirez actively lives up to these values. There is no shortage of evidence that he has left an outstanding and lasting impact on those around him.
“Mr. Ramirez is the epitome of a patriot,” said Rivera. “[He] gave selflessly to his country while in the military and continues to do so as a civilian. It is my honor to call him my friend and supervisor. He will always be my family.”