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Tower Airmen control more than just the skies during exercise

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dave DeRemer
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Airmen in the Kadena Air Base air traffic control tower know what it takes to accomplish the mission during Exercise Beverly High 08-4, held from Feb. 10-15. It's the same job they do every day.

"From engine start, we maintain control of the aircraft," said Tech Sgt. Thomas Vezie, 18th Operations Support Squadron tower watch supervisor. "We make sure landing gear is safe and ensure the [aircraft] have all the separation they need with no conflicts on the runway. Not much is different during exercises than what we do every day."

Airmen in the Kadena tower perform a number of different functions besides just controlling aircraft in the air. One of the most important of these is that of the flight data controller, said Senior Airman Andrew Dickey, 18th OSS flight data controller.

"As the flight data controller, I take calls from the command Post and other agencies regarding anything that needs to be done on the airfield," said Airman Dickey. "It's especially important in case of emergencies."

The flight data controller is responsible for disseminating emergency information to various emergency agencies, to include the fire department and medical response, said Airman Dickey. Airmen use a "crash phone," which is a direct line to fire and medical responders.

There is also a flight ground controller responsible for aircraft taxiing to and from the runway, as well as controlling the ground on and around the runway, said Staff Sgt. Monica Warren, 18th OSS flight ground controller.

"I like the job because it's challenging," Sergeant Warren said. "Due to the number and different types of aircraft, the job gets very complex."

During exercises the various jobs within the control tower are the same but sometimes a little more challenging, said Airman Dickey.

"It's interesting sometimes during exercises due to the mix of exercise and real-world scenarios," he said.

"We have to be more vigilant during exercises," Sergeant Warren added. "There are many more things happening on the ground for us to keep track of."

Despite added challenges, the Airmen of Kadena's tower are ready for next month's Pacific Air Forces Operational Readiness Inspection, according to Sergeant Vezie.

"I'm proud of my crew and how far they've come with the job and training," he said. "They're ready for the ORI."