Association honors Fort Rucker air traffic controller
October 8, 2010
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- A senior air traffic controller with more than 40 years of service was selected to receive the Air Traffic Control Association's Chairman's Citation of Merit Award recently.
The award acknowledges Air Traffic Services Command ATC Specialist Terry Wilkins' significant contributions to the quality, safety and efficiency of ATC throughout the U.S. Army, according to the award citation.
He will accept his award Oct. 25 at the annual ATCA conference in Washington, D.C.
Wilkins serves within ATSCOM's Fixed Base System Division and provides technical assistant visits, site surveys and configuration management for Army ATC facilities and sites. He also works with the Federal Aviation Administration, other military branches and foreign governments.
This award honors not only his efforts, but all air traffic controllers' work, he said.
"It's been a teamwork effort. No one person does this by themselves," he said. "It's important to recognize ATC because it's such an important field. ATCs don't just work at airfields and airports. Many work in behind the scenes functions, like staff jobs."
Wilkins' ATC career began in 1966 when he graduated from ATC school. He retired as a sergeant major after serving in the Army for about 30 years. He has worked in his current capacity since 1998.
Over the years, Wilkins has watched his field develop and grow, and has played an integral part in upgrades and improvements.
"I like ATC because of the diversity of the work. Nothing's the same every day," he said. "I also like it because of the modernization. I get to work with new technology. We're striving to better modernize the facilities."
In order to do this, Wilkins spends many days traveling on temporary duty assignments to ATC sites around the country. He surveys facilities and advises how to improve them according to ATC standards.
"We want to look for new ways to enhance the abilities of controllers to do their jobs. It saves money and lives," he said. "Better equipment makes for a more transparent environment between ATCs and pilots."
One of Wilkins' co-workers, Mark Sewell, ATSCOM chief of training, said the senior controller deserves recognition for his work.
"His expertise in dealing with overarching decisions and systems that go into Army airfields will have lasting ramifications for years and years to come," Sewell said. "Because of his common sense approach to solving critical issues, people seek him out."
While he's not travelling or in his Bldg. 2805 office here, Wilkins spends time giving back to others, Sewell said. He volunteers as a certified reserve deputy sherriff sergeant for the Coffee County Sherriff's Department and is a sponsor for the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence foreign military student exchange program.