News: Fightertown Marine excels in MOS, named ATC Marine of Year
Story by Lance Cpl. Joshua Pettway
Out of thousands of Marines and Sailors, one Fightertown Marine stood out amongst his co-workers. Sgt. Keith Atkinson, an air traffic controller with Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron, won the Vice Adm. Robert B. Pirie award, also known as the award for Air Traffic Control Marine or sailor of the Year for the Marine Corps and Navy, April 10.
Atkinson will be presented with the award during the annual 2010 Navy and Marine Corps ATC symposium, May 13, at the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach.
Atkinson was recognized as the ATC Marine of the Year between the sailors and Marines of the Air Station for his ability to excel at his military occupational specialty.
As the ATC Marine of the Year for the Air Station he then went on to run against seven others who won on their respective military installations to win the award for both the Marine Corps and Navy as a whole.
"It is a pretty big deal and a very humbling experience. I was up against a lot of competition here," Atkinson said. "My family has supported me throughout the whole process. My wife made an even bigger deal about it than I did at first"
Atkinson had to accomplish much in his military career in order to succeed against the service members he was being compared to.
"Having someone accomplish as much as he has is not something you see everyday," said Capt. Austin Fitts, the ATC facility officer. "He earned the award, and excelled at everything we have thrown at him."
Air Traffic Control Marines have three different billets that fall under their primary MOS: local, approach and arrival controller. It normally takes a total of 12 years to reach the required training necessary for all three billets, but Atkinson managed to do so in the first three years of his enlistment aboard the Air Station.
"I owe a lot to everyone I work with," Atkinson said. "Everyone trains everyone, this was a team effort."
In order to accomplish all that he had, Atkinson leaned on the pillars of support; his peers, family and friends provided.
"Atkinson has faced a lot of stiff competition and was compared to Marines and sailors from various Marine Corps installations," Fitts said. "Despite all odds, he performed extremely well and has not wavered once while doing so."