KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Six people received recognition for their work in maintaining a strong nuclear deterrent for the United States and its allies, entering the prestigious Order of the Nucleus on Friday.
In 2011, Maj. Gen. Garrett Harencak, then-commander of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center (AFNWC), initiated the Order of the Nucleus to recognize individuals and teams who support the nuclear enterprise with great distinction. Since then, three teams and 67 individuals, including the newest inductees, have received the honor.
The new Order of the Nucleus members are:
• Benjamin C. Benjamin, former Sandia National Laboratories weapon intern senior mentor, Trinity Test photographer and nuclear tester;
• Donald L. Cook, former National Nuclear Security Administration deputy administrator for defense programs;
• Eric N. Single, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition) Global Strike Division chief and former bomber pilot, commander and nuclear force planner;
• Col. George R. Farfour, AFNWC vice commander, policy formulator, war planner and former intercontinental ballistic missile operator;
• Jeffrey W. Bean, AFNWC Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Systems Directorate chief engineer; and
• James A. Moyers, AFNWC historian and Cold War veteran.
Benjamin was inducted posthumously, and his daughters Eileen Ball and Katrina Benjamin represented him at the induction ceremony at the Canyon Club in Albuquerque.
AFNWC Commander Maj. Gen. Scott Jansson called the inductees “truly great individuals.” He recognized their families as well.
“Thank you for your contributions, for your support of the individuals we’re honoring today to allow them to contribute so much to our nuclear enterprise,” Jansson said.
He quoted President Barack Obama in saying the nuclear arsenal provides security for the U.S. and its allies, and requires investment to keep its deterrent capabilities from being doubted.
“People are ultimately key in nuclear deterrence,” Jansson continued.
The honorees emulate professionalism and determination, he said.
Each inductee or a representative spoke briefly at the ceremony.
Ball thanked the assembled group for honoring her father’s accomplishments over 50 years. She said she and her sister lived with trinitite, a by-product of the blast in nuclear testing, in the garage while they were growing up, and the award makes them appreciate their father more.
Cook said he claimed to have trained brigadier generals in deterrent thinking, and they claimed to have tried to keep him in line before Congress and the Navy, although they failed. He said Air Force strategic planning is outstanding.
“And please always remember I am so proud of you all,” he said to listeners working in the nuclear enterprise and strategic planning.
Farfour said he was receiving recognition for a lifetime of duties he loved.
“I am honored, humbled and grateful,” he said.
He said his co-honorees were more worthy than he was, and his staff members made him look better than he deserved.
Single, who flew in from Washington, D.C., for the ceremony, said he was lucky to be part of the nuclear enterprise for more than 30 years. He recalled helping test weapons on the B-52 Stratofortress and being involved with standing up the Air Force Global Strike Command, among other things.
Bean said he appreciated the dedicated people he’s worked with and mentorship he’s received, and he’s trying to pay some of it back.
“We strongly believe in this mission,” he said of the nuclear part of U.S. safety.
Moyers said his exposure to the nuclear enterprise went back to his childhood, when his father, who was in the Army, was stationed near Nagasaki. He said being inducted into the Order of the Nucleus most humbled and honored him of all the awards he’s received, and he didn’t think his contributions came anywhere near those of his fellow inductees.