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Air Traffic Controller wins three top ATC awards in one year
Staff Sgt. Ut Ta (front row, left) receives the Lingiam Odems Memorial Award in a ceremony held in Washington D.C. Oct. 3. The award is presented to an individual, military or civilian air traffic control specialist, who has, during the previous year, performed in an exemplary or extraordinary manner in support of military air traffic control facilities. Staff Sgt. Ta was also recognized as the 2011 Air Force Global Strike Command Air Traffic Controller of the Year and Air Force Air Traffic Controller of the Year. (Air Traffic Control Association courtesy photo)
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Air traffic controller wins three top ATC awards

Posted 11/1/2011   Updated 11/1/2011 Email story   Print story

    


by Maj Eric Badger
7th Air Force Public Affairs


11/1/2011 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Three times the charm for Staff Sgt. Ut Ta who was recently recognized as the 2011 Air Force-level Air Traffic Controller of the Year, 2011 Air Force Global Strike Command Air Traffic Controller of the Year, and the 2011 Lingiam Odems Memorial Award winner for outstanding contributions to the Air Force Air Traffic Control career field.

The current Combat Airspace Plans NCOIC for the 607th Air and Space Operations Command, was deployed to Balad Air Base, Iraq as a Combined En-route Approach Facility Air Traffic Controller when first notified of winning the AFGSC and Air Force-level ATC awards.

"When the entire crew and I were called into our chief's office, I thought we were in trouble for something," he said. "Then, they starting applauding and told me congratulations. I had no idea I had even been nominated, so it was definitely a big surprise."

Due to his deployment, he was unable to attend either of the award ceremonies. However, within days of arrival to Osan Air Base from his previous assignment at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., he was told by his sponsor that he was being sent to Washington, D.C. to receive the Lingiam Odems Memorial award Oct. 3.

The Lingiam "Linn" Odems Memorial Award is a medallion award for military air traffic control specialists, according to the Air Traffic Control Association's Web site. This is an award presented to an individual, military or civilian air traffic control specialist, who has, during the previous year, performed in an exemplary or extraordinary manner in support of military air traffic control facilities.

The purpose of the Air Traffic Control Association Awards Program is to give special recognition to those persons and organizations engaged in the development, operation or maintenance of the world-wide air traffic control system for outstanding achievement or for an outstanding contribution to ATC, according to the ATCA's Web site.

"I am really humbled by all of the recognition, but air traffic control is a team effort," said Ta. "You can't do it by yourself. I won all of these awards because I had a good crew and good people looking after me."

For Airmen in the ATC field, Ta sets a great example to follow, according to Capt. Donald Roley, 51st Operations Support Squadron Airfield Flight commander.

"Sergeant Ta epitomizes what it means to be both a controller and an Airman," said Roley. "The amount of technical knowledge that he has amassed in the short time that he's been in the career field is nothing short of amazing. 

Ta's current supervisor echoed similar sentiments about her office's new non-commisioned officer in charge.

"His accomplishments are absolutely extraordinary," said Capt. Nicole Zayas, 607th Air Operations Center Airspace Plans chief. "These awards just prove that his hard work and dedication is remarkable and commendable."

Ta, the New Port Richey, Florida native, credits his family as a driving force behind his determination and passion to be the best at what he does.

"They are a big reason why I try so hard and do the things that I do," he said. "They tell me they are very proud of me. If they are happy, I'm happy."

Ta also credits his ATC friends and teammates, Senior Airman's Anthony Bojorquez, Whitney Parker, and Kyle Rowe, for helping him maintain his competitive edge.

"There has always been a friendly, respectful competition among us," he said. "We pushed each other to do more and be better than we were the day before."

Despite the long work hours and stress of a no-fail mission, Ta always feels he is at home away from home in any radar approach control facility.

"Air traffic control can be an underappreciated job at times, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world," he said.



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