News: Marine nominated to represent MCAS Iwakuni for Air Traffic Controller of the Year
Story by Lance Cpl. James Smith
IWAKUNI, Japan - Among the air traffic controllers stationed here, only one is chosen to represent Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni for the Marine Corps' Air Traffic Controller of the Year.
Staff Sgt. Richard Saenz, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron air traffic controller, was selected by his chain of command to represent MCAS Iwakuni for Air Traffic Controller of the Year, Jan. 16, 2013.
“They talked about it and today they told me that I was selected,” said Saenz. “This was one of those things where I didn’t think that I would get picked.”
Saenz is currently a tower supervisor, where he ensures organization of everything on the airfield and within the station’s airspace. He has been an air traffic controller for seven years.
“We have numerous publications that we abide by,” said Saenz. “Everything from the Federal Aviation Administration down to facility manuals requires us to do things a certain way to make sure everything is safe and orderly.”
In 2007, Saenz was a corporal stationed at MCAS Miramar, Calif. He won Air Traffic Controller of the Quarter twice and named Miramar’s Air Traffic Controller of the Year. Since Saenz was stationed here Jan. 9, 2011, this was his first selection to represent Iwakuni.
“The facility in itself is a great place to train,” said Saenz. “We work with Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force aircraft, so we get to implement that with our planning process when it comes to air traffic control.”
Saenz also said MCAS Iwakuni is the only Marine Corps installation which conducts sea-lane operations, and the other Marines who stepped up to that challenge have done a great job.
“Out of all the Marines that are here, and there are so many good controllers, I can’t accept anything without (recognizing) all the Marines at MCAS Iwakuni,” said Saenz. “They are the ones that helped me to become who I am and put me in a place where I can train them to be great controllers.”