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118th JTAC first to receive hallowed graduate patch from USAF Weapons School

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran
  • 145th Public Affairs
Tech. Sgt. David Maddeford, Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) with the 118th Air Support Operations Squadron (ASOS), New London, N.C., made history as one of five graduates of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School to be awarded the coveted graduate patch and enter into an elite group of "patch wearer" brethren during the school's class 15-A graduation ceremony held June 27, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nev.

As the first and only enlisted patch wearers in the school's 66-year history, Maddeford will join 24 JTAC Weapons Instructor Course past graduates, who will now also be awarded patches.

The value of the patch to the warfighter cannot be overstated.

"People don't understand the gravity of this night." said Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Mullins, 118th ASOS Chief JTAC-I, Operations Superintendent. "Having an enlisted guy get a weapons school patch is a huge shift in where our career field is going. There hasn't been anything significant like this to happen in our career field for over three decades."

Gen. Herbert J. "Hawk" Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, stated, "These warriors are asked to perform amazing feats in the midst of chaos, and their importance to the theater air-ground fight cannot be overstated. They are trained and skilled. They are the instructors of instructors for our entire JTAC force and consistently provide critical combat leadership.  They have saved lives because they are very good at what they do. It is time we recognize them as such. Wearing the Weapons Instructor Course (WIC) patch gives them instant noticeable credibility as experts in air-to-ground tactics, techniques, procedures, and in the integration of all aspects of theater air, space, and cyber power."

JTACs have a broad range of skills that are applied in domestic response or in combat. The combat airmen are usually on the ground, tasked to advise Army ground commanders on the best use of air power to put bombs on target, in addition to air space de-confliction, establishing drop and landing zones and setting up and maintaining radio communications.

However, in domestic response, they use those skills to save lives and provide support to those on the ground by establishing landing zones and pinpointing locations for aircraft to find victims or emergency responders needing assistance, resupply or evacuation.

The Weapons School provides the world's most advanced training in weapons and tactics employment, and every six months, produces a new class of graduates who are expert instructors on weapons, weapons systems and air and space integration. Each graduate from the JTAC, five-and-a-half month curriculum course, has completed 23 full-mission profiles and devoted 752 total hours in the classroom and on the range.

"The missions that we ran, the planning, executing and debriefing, were more difficult than the academics." said Maddeford, "Weapons School builds instructors of instructors. It is very apparent that they (the instructors) take this task seriously."

Upon completing the course, graduates return to their home stations, taking the latest tactics, techniques and procedures for air-to-air and air-to-ground combat to their respective units.

"I am extremely proud of TSgt Maddeford's accomplishments," Mullins stated proudly, "I am excited to have him as the first guard JTAC to bring his skills back to an operational unit. His expertise will continue to make the 118th ASOS the best in the Combat Air Force."