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Casual lieutenant innovates, supports UPT next

By 2nd Lt. Jeremy Garcia | 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs | May 25, 2018


A second lieutenant on casual status at the 12th Training Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph will soon enter a new phase in his Air Force career when he joins other Airmen at Initial Flight Training.


However, what sets him apart from many of his peers is his prior experience in the flying world.


“Both of my parents were in the Air Force, and my old man was an air traffic controller,” said 2nd Lt. Sean. “That’s all I ever wanted to be. I grew up in it.”


Sean called his parents his “heroes,” his source of inspiration, when they lived as a family at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, pursuing their Air Force careers.


With a sense of pride and joy, Sean mentioned that his parents have been retired from the military after 26 years of service but still continue to serve their nation today by working in the Pentagon as civilians. He says he still speaks to them quite often.

Just like his father, Sean headed to Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, to become an air traffic controller.

“It was awesome to get to experience a complexity that I had never known but get to do it quickly under military training,” he said.

But his outlets on the weekend were “clearing the beach and being under the sunshine” in order to clear his mind and distance himself from the intensity of training.

After officially becoming an air traffic controller, Sean spent his early Air Force years at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, and Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, and was deployed four times to Iraq and Kuwait. After his promotion to staff sergeant, Sean applied to Officer Training School.

Becoming a remotely piloted aircraft pilot was his number one choice.

“Getting in on the tactical level, supporting soldiers on the ground is pretty awesome and definitely team-based,” he said.

Sean’s eyes lit up when speaking about the career field still in its infancy. There was a sense of enthusiasm as he spoke passionately about the new and innovative way of flying. He will be at the forefront of this career field and have the opportunity to watch it grow.

“That’s the future and I’m going to make it work,” he said.

However, until he pins on his wings, Sean spends his time as an air traffic controller at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, assisting Air Education and Training Command with its new program called Undergraduate Pilot Training Next.  While on casual status, he is “able to give pilots taxiing instructions; landing and take-off and pattern instructions; weather data; and different scenarios to saturate the radios to improve training quality.” He said this kind of training increases the pilots’ situational awareness. 

When asked if there was any advice he would give to any Airman, Sean said to “keep your eyes on the horizon,” a phrase often used in the flying world that refers to looking for opportunities to be better.

“Look for ways to improve yourself,” he said. “Attempt to be a part of the change. Don’t be a roadblock.”

(Surnames of Remotely Piloted Aircraft operators are withheld to comply with Air Force directives concerning their security.)