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Air Traffic, Air Space course graduates largest class

W01 Gerald Frasier, 150A graduate, receives his certificate from Col. Garry L. Thompson, Warrant Officer Career College commandant, during a graduation ceremony at Pratt Hall July 21. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

W01 Gerald Frasier, 150A graduate, receives his certificate from Col. Garry L. Thompson, Warrant Officer Career College commandant, during a graduation ceremony at Pratt Hall July 21. (Photo by Nathan Pfau)

Published: July 24, 2014

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 24, 2014) -- One of the newest military occupation specialties in Army Aviation graduated its largest class July 21, signaling new interest in an important role in air traffic control.

Nine Soldiers graduated from the 150A Air Traffic and Air Space course and will go on to become platoon leaders to control air space, said CW2 Rebecca Pinckney, 150A Air Traffic and Air Space Branch manager and instructor assigned to D Company, 1st Battalion, 145th Aviation Regiment.

“This is a pretty significant job because we’re the technical experts,” said Pinckney. “These are air traffic and air space subject-matter experts who tell their commanders everything there is to know about air traffic control and air space.”

This includes knowing how to make air space plans, how to use air traffic control equipment, how to deploy that equipment and more.

Although graduating nine students might not seem like much, Pinckney said that this number was significant because the class normally graduates only two to three students at a time.

“It means a lot to see this MOS grow because there are only around 96 active-duty 150As in the Army,” she said. “To be a part of 1-145th and see them grow like this is pretty significant.”

W01 Robert Hickox, B Co., 1st Bn., 145th Avn. Regt., was among the graduates, finishing top of his class with higher than 98 percent academic average in the course, and said he’s excited to get started in his career.

“We’ve been in warrant officer classes since January, so there has been a lot of training we’ve had to go through in the last month,” said Hickox. “It’s nice to culminate all of that with this graduation, and I’m excited to get to my unit and get started.”

Hickox will be transferring to Camp Humphreys, South Korea, where he will be starting his new MOS – one that took him three years to get into.

“I started off my career as a light-wheel mechanic … and was finally able re-classes as an air traffic controller,” he said. “It wasn’t available to me in my first term … but ever since I was able to go into a tower with my dad (who was also an air traffic controller), I knew going into the military, it was what I wanted to do.”

During the graduation, Col. Garry L. Thompson, Warrant Officer Career College commandant, was on hand to offer the graduates congratulations, as well as advice on how to become better leaders throughout their career.

He offered up an acronym that he coined – PILLL, which stands for professionalism, initiative, listen, learn and lead.

“Professionalism is the first thing you need to think about,” he said. “A lot of it means going out there and doing the right thing when no one’s looking – looking right in your uniform, staying in shape and things like that. Do this and you will stand out.

Next, Thompson said that each graduate should have initiative.

“You’ve got to show (initiative) when you’re out there in your unit,” he said. “Volunteer for those jobs that no one else wants and be the best at that job. Be the best in the ATC world that you can possibly be.”

Listen, he continued.

“We have forgotten how to listen,” said the WOCC commandant. “We don’t listen to enough people – we don’t listen to our peers and we don’t listen to our subordinates. You need to do that and it will pay huge dividends for the platoons you’re going to go out there and lead.”

Thompson said that although the graduates just completed their courses, they must continue to learn in order to be good leaders.

“Be a life-long learner – it doesn’t stop today,” he said. “Continue to learn. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to the Soldiers you’re about to lead.”

Lastly, Thompson said that each of the graduating Soldiers needs to lead, and although that part may sound obvious, it’s leading the right way that makes a true leader.

“You’ve got to know yourself to be a leader,” he said. “You’re going to become advisers to commissioned officers. Don’t sit back and look at a lieutenant or captain and wait for them to fail, because you’re absolutely wrong if you do that.”

This class was also the first class to receive 150A coins specially made for this MOS, said Pinckney.

This article was originally published at http://www.army.mil/article/130459/

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