Reading airspace in ones and zeros – one Marine makes it look easy

11 Apr 2007 | Cpl. Zachary Dyer

Knowledge is power. It is the power to succeed in life and it is the power to excel in a job. One Marine is using his knowledge about his job to do just that.

Staff Sgt. Kevin Williams, the Direct Air Support Center chief for Marine Air Support Squadron 1, is using his understanding of air operations to not only help his Marines, but to help the service members outside the wire as well.

“Staff Sergeant Williams is amazing,” said Lt. Col. Ward Quinn, the MASS-1 commanding officer. “His level of knowledge and capability is well beyond his rank. When I first met him, he was a sergeant and I had colonels telling me how great he was. He easily is probably one of the top professionals in our field. He knows more about air command and control than a lot of officers I know.”

At the DASC, Marines with MASS-1 control and communicate with every aircraft that is flying above Al Anbar Province. They provide the coordination required to make sure Marines on the ground get the air support they need.
Williams, a Baltimore, Md., native, is responsible for leading his fellow “Chieftains” that work in the DASC.

“(My job) is mostly coordination, and providing the DASC crews that I supervise and manage, solutions and clarity on how they are to execute their assigned tasks,” said Williams. “I just provide a sanity check for all the decisions that they make in the DASC.”

In addition, Williams plans aerial support for operations.

“I also do air operations planning most of the time, where you’re planning air space, planning operations, and feasibility of support for certain operations,” said Williams.

The 25-year-old, who has spent eight years in the Marine Corps, said he originally joined to find direction in his life.

“I was getting into trouble and I needed to change my life, find something that would at least steer me in the right direction,” said Williams. “The Marine Corps was it. I have a lot of family that were in the Marines. It worked for them and it worked for me.”

Williams shares his knowledge and experience with the Marines around him, making them not only better at their jobs, but better Marines as well.

“He helps me out all the time,” said Lance Cpl. Otto Schmid, a tactical air request/helicopter request operator with MASS-1. “He tries teaching me more and tries to make me better at my job. He always says that you can always be better at your job and you want to try to get the smaller parts of the big picture, one piece at a time.”

Williams is known throughout the squadron as a person to go to for information, according to Schmid.

“People would say he reads airspace in ones and zeros,” said Schmid. “He’s the guy to talk to about everything. He’s been doing this for seven years and some majors are looking up to him with what he does. I aspire to be like him someday.”
It is not only his knowledge, but his leadership that sets Williams apart, according to Sgt. Maj. John Halpin, the Chieftain’s sergeant major.

“He doesn’t react to a situation, he’s already proactive on things,” said Halpin. “Instead of a knee jerk reaction, he’s already a few steps ahead. That’s what it takes to be a good leader.”

Williams said that he is just happy that he gets to do what he is doing, helping the Marines on the ground.

“When it comes to (medical evacuations), knowing that the Marines in the DASC, with a little bit of rudder-steering from me, are doing everything that they possibly can to get that guy evacuated, is pretty fulfilling,” said Williams. “You know we’re supporting the guys on the ground.”

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