HomeNewsArticle Display

Controlling the airspace for three generations

William Merritt, a retired Air Force master sergeant, is featured on a past cover of Airman Magazine. He is the father of Michael Merritt, a 325th Operation Support Squadron radar approach control chief controller, and the second of three generations of Air Traffic Controllers. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

William Merritt, a retired Air Force master sergeant, is featured on a past cover of Airman Magazine. He is the father of Michael Merritt, a 325th Operation Support Squadron radar approach control chief controller, and the second of three generations of Air Traffic Controllers. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

Children often admire parents and grandparents for doing great things, which can compel them to follow in their families’ footsteps and strive for greatness. For one Airman here, those footsteps from the past were followed almost exactly, leading to three generations of air traffic controllers.

Senior Master Sgt. Michael Merritt, a 325th Operation Support Squadron radar approach control chief controller, is a third generation ATC, and the second generation to also serve in that career field while stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base.

In fact, there has been a Merritt with a mic in their hands talking to airplanes since 1947.

"My grandfather retired as (a Federal Aviation Administration) ATC controller," Michael said. "He did it for a long time. My father joined the Air Force as a controller, retired as a master sergeant, and went into FAA as a controller."

Michael didn't know much about his grandfather's job as a kid. It wasn't until he joined the military that he was made fully aware of his grandfather's career.

"When I was young, I remember a 'bring your kids to work day' when my father took me into the tower," Michael said. "As a youngster I didn't really know what I was looking at, I just thought it was cool to look out the windows and see the aircraft."

His father, William, served more than 20 years in the military. Tyndall AFB was William's first station, where he obtained his first ATC rating. Now after several years, his son Michael has made his way to Tyndall AFB.

"My dad absolutely thinks it's cool," Michael said. "He will tell me about how it was, even when I talk to him today, he will tell me about places I have to visit. There is a certain relation that we have; there is a coolness factor in talking about it and what has changed."

Joining the Air Force, Michael aspired to join the ATC career.

"At first they denied me because of my vision," he said. "So they gave me another job and I became a load master."

After seeing a specialist and getting his vision corrected, and spending 6 years as an AC-130 Spectre gunship load master, Merritt was able to cross train into ATC.

"I love my job overall, whether it be as a load master or ATC," Michael said. "What I enjoy the most is being able to develop my Airmen and NCOs.”

Engage

Twitter
#ICYMI, DAF senior leaders and their spouses participated in a Leadership & the Family panel during #ASC21 held at… https://t.co/FZOnzruyw4
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: U.S. #Airmen from various organizations within USAFE-AFAFRICA participated in Falcon Leap 21, a multinational parachute tr…
Twitter
Hear why this #Airman chose to get vaccinated. @SecAFOfficial directed the COVID-19 vaccine implementation guideli… https://t.co/154QECoeXk
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: Doing frequent mental health check-ins could make a big difference in building resiliency. Promote wellness within yourself…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Every time I look at "Wings Through Time” by Robert Emerson Bell it’s a constant reminder that the ability to accelerate…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: If you need help or know someone who needs help - text 838255 or call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the Military Crisis Line. Let…
Twitter
RT @US_TRANSCOM: A @usairforce KC-135 refuels a B-2 Spirit in @US_EUCOM during a bomber task force mission.Tankers fuel the required reach…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: A senior leader message during #SuicidePreventionMonth: "You are our greatest strength and the beating heart of our Air…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Congratulations to the @USAirForce’s 12 Outstanding #Airmen of the Year on earning recognition as exemplary performers i…
Twitter
RT @RealAFOSI: 1/ #DidYouKnow Sept. is Insider Threat Awareness Month? No environment is immune from the threat posed by trusted insiders.…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Sharene and I take the caring and well-being of our Airmen and their families very seriously. Thank you @AirForceAssoc fo…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Everyone wants to make their mark on the world. But why make just one? https://t.co/g1iX4pzU9b
Twitter
10 years have passed since #DontAskDontTell was repealed. @UnderSecAF Gina Ortiz Jones celebrated the milestone by… https://t.co/i1kTNvykzM
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: It’s going to take all of our Airmen, Active-duty, Reserve and Guard to secure this nation’s future. https://t.co/4P3CUiQ…
Twitter
RT @UnderSecAF: A few years ago, only two small businesses joined us at AFA--this year we have 40+. @AFWERX works with these companies ever…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF is meeting with defense industry leaders today during the @AirForceAssoc’s #ASC21 events. In his #OneTeamOneFigh
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Our rate of change needs to increase. We must move with a sense of urgency today in order to rise to the challenges of to…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,378,291
Follow Us