Artist’s rendering of WGS-11+



Guardian named as finalist for “Sammies” award

  • Published
  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

Chong Le, a Space Force civilian has been named as a finalist for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, also known as the “Sammies” in the Safety, Security and International Affairs category.

Le, a Weather and Satellite Follow-On – Microwave Payload Technical Team lead assigned to the Space and Missile Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., earned the nomination for overseeing the development of a $1 billion satellite system that will provide better predictions about major weather events and natural disasters.

“Mr. Le’s nomination is a testament to the expansive impact one person can have when they show up and deliver excellence in their day-to-day mission,” said Anthony P. Reardon, performing the duties of Under Secretary of the Air Force. “I'm extremely proud of all our SMC teammates and I’m especially grateful Chong is a member of the Department of the Air Force.”

Le’s approach to the job and the innovations he brought to reality “will provide military leaders and civilian authorities the information needed to make crucial, life-saving decisions for years to come,” Reardon said.

The Sammies are prestigious and highly competitive annual awards presented by the Partnership for Public Service that recognizes outstanding public servants’ contributions to the nation’s health, safety and security. While some past winners are well known, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, most are largely unknown to the public even though their work and contributions touch people every day.

“I am very excited and encouraged for being nominated for this award,” Le said. “I am thankful that I work with a kind and professional team, whose members are constantly providing knowledge, support, and encouragement for my work and personal development.

“I also want to thank my supervisors and leadership in my organization for their recognition of my work and the time spent to write and submit the award nomination package,” he said.

According to a summary of Le’s career provided to the Partnership in support of his selection, his work on the complex weather satellite project “follows a previous satellite project between 1995 and 2011 to help the Defense Department spot missile launches across the globe, both friendly and hostile. This Space Based Infrared System in 2019 detected nearly 1,000 missile launches, serving as an early warning defense system.

“Both of these space-surveillance satellite programs have a common element: They use cutting-edge technology that Le helped develop, coordinate and put into use,” the summary says.

Le, a 34 year government employee who graduated with an engineering degree from California State University, Los Angeles, embodies the competition’s related goal of show casing people who select a government career.

“In college, he thought he wanted to work on big machines or cars and never really thought about high-tech challenges. But he soon discovered that a civilian career with the military would let him continually learn and rotate into different programs and experiences with new technology challenges,” the partnership’s summary of Le says.

Named for the Partnership for Public Service’s late founder the award was inspired by President Kennedy’s call to serve in 1963. These awards align with his vision of a dynamic and innovative federal workforce that meets the needs of the American people. To learn more about the annual award program visit

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