Retired combat controller returns to duty

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Gabe Johnson
  • Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs
Retirement for Master Sgt. Jay was five years of adventure in Alaska as a king crab fisherman, a state law enforcement officer and a Trans-Alaskan Pipeline security officer. But the former airman missed the adventure of being an Air Force combat controller and has returned to active duty to add another chapter to his 20-year Air Force career.

Jay, assigned to the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron here, re-enlisted to help the special tactics community meet its mission requirements.

The 43-year-old special tactics operator, whose last name is not being released for security reasons, returned to active duty because he felt he was needed in light of the demands Operation Enduring Freedom is placing on Air Force special tactics operators.

"On September 11th when I witnessed those planes fly into the buildings, I knew we were going to war and special tactics would need as much manpower as possible," said the sergeant.

According to Jay, the news reports that followed of airmen being killed in action incited him to rejoin his fellow air commandos in the global war on terrorism.

"I started the process of re-entering the Air Force in December," said Jay, who quit his job in Alaska five months ago to dedicate himself to reinstating his active-duty status.

The long process of re-enlistment was easy for the sergeant, who has the support of his family.

"Though my family is proud of my decision to return to active duty, they are a bit worried because of they know what combat control encompasses," said Jay. "My father, who is a retired chief master sergeant, asked if he could get back in the service, and he's 70 years old. I certainly had the support and motivation to follow through with this decision."

After five years away from the career field, Jay returned to combat control and passed the physical fitness exam. He now focuses his attention on upgrading his combat skills so he can be an instructor at his squadron.

"I think I can best serve by being an instructor so I can free up other operators for deployments," said the sergeant. "However, I eventually hope to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom."

"We are relieved to have Jay here," said Senior Master Sgt. Harvey Perriott, Jay's supervisor. "After only a month he is rapidly becoming an integral part of our combat capability."

"It feels fantastic to be back in uniform," said Jay. "I'm in awe at all they [special tactics operators] have accomplished during this war on terrorism, and I am proud to join them once again."

Combat controllers are certified air traffic controllers who specialize in unconventional missions. They are uniquely qualified to set up small communication sites anywhere in the world to guide aircraft for landing on makeshift runways without the benefit of a tower or large communications systems. Controllers provide command and control, intelligence gathering, surveying capabilities, limited weather observations and are qualified in demolition to clear obstructions and hazards from potential runways and landing zones. (Courtesy of Air Force Special Operations Command News Service)