Tower NCO watches over the training skies and fellow Soldiers
September 14, 2009
HOHENFELS, Germany - His mission is not complete until all aircraft in his airspace are brought in safely. Lives and millions of dollars of equipment are in his hands on a daily basis - but even more important is his responsibility to train young Soldiers how to control the skies over the Joint Multinational Readiness Center (JMRC).
The JMRC provides pre-deployment training. Observers and controllers (OC's) at JMRC strive to make training as realistic as possible. Units train force-on-force using scenario driven, real-world and real-time situations to get a functional understanding of training needed to support operations down range.
"When these young privates come in to the tower, I just don't tell them what to do or how to do it," said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Miguel Martinez. "I tell them why they have to do it, so they can see the whole picture."
His Soldiers can learn quite a bit from this seasoned veteran. In 2003, Martinez deployed with 358th AVN out of Grafenwoehr, Germany, during the liberation of Iraq. In the middle of the desert, Martinez's unit stood-up a complete airfield from nothing.
"It was a hectic period," he said, "but it was pretty amazing."
It was during the deployment, Martinez said, where he really "learned" his Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). Whether it is in combat or at the JMRC, as an air traffic controller, Martinez must maintain safe and expedient air traffic, guiding rotary or fixed-wing aircraft around terrain and each other.
"I was a specialist and then a sergeant," Martinez said. "It gave me experience in doing my job day-in and day-out as a Soldier and then as a leader."
Martinez said his advanced NCO education (Warrior Leader Course; Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course and Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course) helped him to prepare other Soldiers in the tactical aspects of his position. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) guidelines and proper military procedures he learned while in the classroom help him to proficiently teach his Soldiers the ropes.
But it was other NCOs he has worked with on deployments and in garrison that has helped him develop and expand upon his leadership style, and molded him into the mentor he is today.
"I met Sergeant Major Jordan as a sergeant first class in Iraq, and he showed me so much about my MOS and Soldiering," he said.
"He took the time, and he helped me tremendously with my career and my life. I try to take the same approach he had because it was so effective on me.
"It always feels good when you work with a Soldier," he said.
"It doesn't matter if it is PT failure or weight. When you work with them you feel the same struggles that Soldier feels. Once they accomplish their goal - whether it is making tape or passing the APFT, you feel the same rewards they do," he said.
Martinez said it is rewarding that the Army is recognizing NCOs during the 2009 Year of the NCO campaign.
"The Army needs us to accomplish the Army mission," he said. "And the junior-enlisted need us to show them how."