NEWS | Nov. 16, 2018

Air Defenders Recognized for Achieving Patriot Master Gunner Status

By Capt. Marion Jo Nederhoed

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- Fourteen Air Defenders from across the globe graduated on November 14, from Class 701-18 Patriot Master Gunner (PMG) course held at Osan Air Base, South Korea, with senior leaders and family members in attendance. The new PMG's were recognized for their hard work and completing this milestone in their careers. The course is both demanding and critical for air defenders worldwide and to the mission in the Republic of Korea.

The 35th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, hosted the course that included students from The 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command (AAMDC), Hawaii; Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Fort Bliss, Texas and 1-1 ADA from Okinawa, Japan, and 35th ADA Soldiers stationed on the Korean Peninsula. The course has been ongoing since September 11, and provided the new Patriot Master Gunners with critical skills to enhance readiness and air defense across the force.

Guest Speaker, Command Sgt. Maj. Randy B. Gray, 30th Air Defense Artillery Brigade command sergeant major from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, challenged the new graduates to live up to the standards of a Patriot Master Gunner by becoming system experts and better trainers. Gray said that the easy part is over and they have earned the PMG designation. They have learned the necessary tools and now the hard part begins as they go out and share their experience.

"Remain relevant, share knowledge and anticipate problems," Gray said. "Be forward thinking, choose a mentor and put yourself in uncomfortable situations."

Sgt. 1st Class Gregorio Estrada, Patriot Master Gunner Course Mentor from 3rd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery School located at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, congratulated the students and encouraged them to take the knowledge that they learned and use it in the field.

"You will have some hard days ahead, but remember your training," Estrada said. "I look forward to working with you in the future."
Staff Sgt. Joseph Butler from Charlie Battery, 2-1 Air Defense Artillery Battalion, received top honors and was recognized as the PMG honor graduate.

"This is overwhelming," Butler said. "I'm excited to go out and use the new tools that I have learned and train our air defenders."

This is the second time that the PMG course was hosted by the 35th ADA. It was first hosted on the South Korean peninsula in 2016. Chief Warrant Officer 4 Mark E. Theriot, pre-course officer-in-charge and course facilitator said that the course is critical not only to the air defenders on the peninsula, but to air defenders worldwide. Currently there are only two or three Patriot Top Gun Officers on the peninsula and this training helps to mitigate any training gaps by having more Patriot Master Gunners to put into the field.

"We are starting planning now to make this an annual reoccurring training," Theriot said. "We hope that we can get more air defenders from around the world to attend. This is helping the force, not just ourselves."

The Master Gunner Course develops expert skills and provides a comprehensive understanding of operations, planning, and airspace management. The course challenges the air defenders' competencies using a number of situations, hands on training, examinations, and practical exercises, to test and evaluate their current skills, knowledge, and attributes (SKA).

By course end, students are required to design and implement defense architecture to employ Air Defense weapons systems using the strategies of the Contemporary Operating Environment (COE) in the following areas: Airspace Management, Operations, Planning, and Evaluation, plus identify the tasks to employ the Patriot Weapon System and fire the Patriot missile.

Graduates of Class 043-ASITA4 Patriot Master Gunner Team 701-18 are:
Sgt. 1st Class Davyon Burroughs
Sgt. 1st Class Ivan Pittman
Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Wallace
Staff Sgt. Joseph Butler
Staff Sgt. Chase Dehart
Staff Sgt. Matthew Heptner
Staff Sgt. Michael McDonough
Staff Sgt. Robert Moscatelli
Staff Sgt. Joe Le
Staff Sgt. Dustin Woods
Staff Sgt. Matthew Woods
Sgt. Jeremy Ducharme
Sgt. Thomas Manor