MCAS Iwakuni Marine recognized for Vice Admiral Pirie Air Traffic Controller of the Year Award

MCAS Iwakuni Marine recognized for Vice Admiral Pirie Air Traffic Controller of the Year Award

by Lance Cpl. Carlos Cruz Jr., Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni
U.S. Marine Corps

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Sgt. Brandon Rockman, an air traffic control supervisor with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, placed second for the Vice Admiral Pirie Air Traffic Controller of the Year award.

For an award available to all Navy and Marine Corps air traffic controllers and typically won by a sailor, it is a huge accomplishment.

The Navy first established the award in 1975 symbolizing the outstanding contributions to mission accomplishment and safe-keeping of flights made by individuals who work as an air traffic controller in the Navy or Marine Corps.

“As a corporal, Rockman was already a tower supervisor which is hard to attain because that calls for being in charge of all the controllers in the tower,” said 1st Lt. Sarah Rhodes, crew officer for ATC with H&HS. “Then, as a sergeant, he went down to the radar branch and started knocking out qualifications. When he started working on Approach Control, which is one of the hardest qualifications that we have here, that’s when we nominated him for the award.”

Rhodes originated the request to nominate Rockman for the award, but it went through his chain-of-command and then all the way up through Marine Corps Installations Pacific until each region selected one Marine or Sailor.

“The command will look at the control force and choose who they believe deserves to be named controller of the year,” said Rockman. “A number of things are taken into consideration, like the number of qualifications you have and things you do outside of the (military occupational specialty).”

Rhodes said she chose him because he went above and beyond what is expected of him. She said he’s a completely humble guy; he puts the mission accomplishment first and also takes time to train his Marines so they are up to their full potential.

During Rockman’s time in MCAS Iwakuni he qualified in tower Flight data, Ground Control, Local Control and several others. He involved himself in more than 100,000 operations recording more than 16 hours of Tower Flight Data, 47 hours on Ground, 272 hours on Local and many more. He now has more hours recorded than any other noncommissioned officer in his crew.

“I really like my job so I work really hard toward getting my qualifications and ensure I can pass on what I learn to others,” said Rockman. “I would say the people that got me to where I am are the reason I deserve this award.”

Rockman continues to improve upon his skills and now is the only Marine aboard station that is completely facility rated, meaning he is qualified in everything pertaining to his MOS.

Even though Rockman did not win first place, Rhodes said this was a great learning experience for him and that she hopes it will motivate other Marines to be as eager to learn as he is.

“Hopefully other Marines gain the mindset that if Rockman can do it, there’s no reason why they can’t,” said Rhodes.

Rockman’s chain-of-command plans to get him out on deployments in the future for more job experience and to better himself so that he could possibly win Vice Admiral Pirie Air Traffic Controller of the Year for 2015.

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