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Before “Curtain Raiser” in 1967 for ICBMs, those working with air-launched missiles had already been competing in competitions since as early as 1955. Those earlier events, with names such as Weapons Meet, Rocket Meet, and Weapons Loading Competition, were every bit as demanding as those in later years that most missileers are more familiar with. Because of the diversity of ballistic missile systems during the early 1960s, it was not feasible for SAC to conduct a force-wide competition, but after the last of the Atlas-D, Atlas-E, Atlas-F, and Titan I systems were retired in 1965, the ball started rolling on a competition for personnel operating and maintaining the remaining ICBMs: Titan II and Minuteman. The inaugural event in 1967, fittingly, was called “Curtain Raiser.” There was no competition in 1968 because of the demand placed on SAC by the Vietnam War, but the comp resumed in 1969 with the name “Olympic Arena”--a name that was changed, briefly, a couple of times over the next 24 years but always came back, even outliving SAC by a year! In 1994, under Air Force Space Command, the annual competition was called Guardian Challenge. By the mid-2000s, it was no longer an annual event, and then in 2009, AFSPC handed off the ICBMs to the newly created Air Force Global Strike Command, which created an entirely new competition called Global Strike Challenge. Like its predecessor, it too is not an annual event, primarily for fiscal reasons, but it is still one that most “Strikers” look forward to with great anticipation.
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