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    Warren, Michigan Sailor Honored as CLDJ’s Hero in the Spotlight

    Warren, Michigan Sailor Honored as Hero in the Spotlight

    Photo By Petty Officer 1st Class Natalia Murillo | CAMP LEMONNIER, Djibouti – U.S. Navy Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Susan Zadorski...... read more read more

    A sudden call for an emergency landing interrupts the calm of Christmas day at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti (CLDJ). Two F-16 fighter jets on mission cannot make contact with their in-air refueler and need a new landing place. Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Susan Zadorski hears it and steps up. In concert with Djiboutian authorities, she coordinates the jets’ safe landing.

    In-air refueling is essential for pilots to keep their planes on mission. U.S. Navy Air Traffic Controllers (AC) train for emergencies around refueling. There is little time to act, let alone think. The jets did not have enough fuel to stay in the air any longer and needed a safe place to land when Zadorski immediately stepped in. This was a matter of life and death.

    “When they reach this point, they only have about 30 minutes left in the air,” said Zadorski, of Warren, Michigan. “They needed to either get fuel or land quickly. If nothing was done, the impact might have been disastrous.”

    Senior Chief Air Traffic Controller Jason Resendez, leading chief petty officer, at CLDJ Air Traffic Operations Center, said Zadorski was not only involved in the safe and prompt recovery of the aircraft in distress but also coordinated their return to their mission.

    Zadorski remained calm during the event because she has seen this type of thing before. She served as air traffic controller aboard USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida and as an instructor at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.

    At the time of the emergency, Zadorski was training Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Bradley Biggs.

    “In the AC community, we pride ourselves for remaining calm under pressure,” said Biggs. “Her mastery of our trade is what kept her calm and collected during the crisis. As a trainee, this is precisely what we want from our trainers, seeing someone who influences the team and meets the mission with a sense of ease and competence during the most demanding circumstances.”

    Air traffic controllers direct aircraft both afloat and ashore. They manage movement of aircraft and vehicles on airfield taxiways and issue flight instructions to pilots by radio. Their role directly affects movement of troops, transport of supplies and combat missions around the world.

    Camp Lemonnier is a forward operating base that enables U.S., allied and partner nation forces to be where and when they are needed to ensure security in Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia.

    Zadorski, a 2014 Warren Mott High School graduate, has served in the Navy for six years and chose the air traffic controller rate for its transferability to the civilian sector.

    “I love air traffic control,” Zadorksi commented. “It’s challenging. When I get out I’m looking at being an air traffic controller. I already have many of the qualifications thanks to the Navy.”

    Zadorski made a personal sacrifice to come on this deployment to Djibouti.
    “Coming here was an odd situation,” Zadorski said. “I chose to come on this deployment in July and then in August I found out my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. So that was really rough. I made it home quickly for her surgery but then I had to leave her to come here.”

    Zadorski’s mother is still undergoing treatment at this time and is progressing as expected.

    Despite the painful departure, Zadorksi has performed well since her arrival in November. In her first month she completed the tower ground control qualification. She completed her qualification in a third of the normal time.

    Air Traffic Controller 1st Class Alvaro Zapata, leading petty officer, CLDJ Air Traffic Operations Center, asserts Zadorski is a valuable asset not only to the department but to the air traffic controller community.

    “She is a shining example of what all ACs should strive to be,” said Zapata.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 01.09.2021
    Date Posted: 01.09.2021 10:37
    Story ID: 386654
    Location: DJ

    Web Views: 495
    Downloads: 3

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