241st Air Traffic Control Squadron History
By SMSgt Benjamin A. Taube
It is the mission of the 241st to deploy, operate, and maintain Air Traffic Control and Landing Systems (ATCALS) in support of the state of Missouri, Air National Guard or United States Air Force Requirements.
The 241st is one of only ten ANG Air Traffic Control Squadrons located throughout the United States available to deploy worldwide in support of operational forces at host nation or bare base locations and provide basic airfield services and combat airspace support to the Theater Air Operations Center (AOC). DATCALS provide the capability to identify, sequence, and separate aircraft; provide final approach guidance and control instructions to aircraft at deployed locations in all types of weather. DATCALS equipment and personnel can be employed to provide liaison, control tower, Radar Approach Control (RAPCON), precision landing capabilities, and mobile Tactical Air Navigation Aid (TACAN) services or any combination.
Personnel and Equipment
The 241st ATCS has numerous career fields including: Air Traffic Control, Airfield Systems, Ground Radar Systems, Electrical Power Production, Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), Logistics Plans, Material Management Administrative, and Personnel. Major equipment utilized by the 241st ATCS includes: the AN/MSN-7, Mobile Tower; the AN/MPN-14K, Mobile RADAR; and the AN/TRN-48, Mobile TACAN.
Early Years and Kosovo
The 241st Air Traffic Control Flight was de-activated in December of 1983 and absorbed by the 239 Combat Communications Squadron. The 241 Air Traffic Control Flight was given a change of station order in June of 1996 from St. Louis to St. Joseph, Missouri. The flight was redesignated as the 241 Air Traffic Control Squadron in October of 1996 and was extended federal recognition on June 3, 1997.
Between 1994 and 2001, the 241st deployed personnel and Mobile Control Tower (MSN-7) to Quincy, IL. 7 times in support of the World Freefall Convention, the largest sky diving boogey (meet) in the United States.
Members of the 241st were activated to Taszar AB, Hungary between the years of 1995 and 1996 in support of the Balkan war. This airlift was jointly performed with members from Cheyenne, Hawaii, and Oregon, and was the largest since Berlin.
Between 1997 and 1998 members of the unit were activated to Taszar AB, Hungary as part of the 16th Air Expeditionary Wing, 406th EOSS, in support of the Balkan crisis.
In 1999, 2 tower controllers were deployed to Balikesir Air Base, Turkey in support of Operation Noble Anvil, 2 Tower Controllers were deployed to Cervia, Italy and 1 Controller to Aviano AB, Italy in support of Operation Allied Force. 1 controller was deployed to Pordenone in support of Operation Allied Force and 3 Tower Controllers were deployed to Bandirma Air Base, Turkey in support of Operation Northern Watch.
Southern Watch and Pre-9/11
In January of 2000, four Air Traffic Controllers were deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch, AEF 9.
The Tower UTC supported the Fly-In for Ft. Leavenworth in Kansas in September of 2000 with the intention of providing yearly support. The events of September 11th on the following year, however, would make the World Freefall Convention in August of 2001 the last event of that kind the Squadron would support until 2007.
In June of 2001, the 241st became the last Air Traffic Control Squadron to successfully deploy a complete unit and pass an Operational Readiness Inspection. All other previous ATC Squadrons had performed home station ORIs or were unable to deploy with the RADAR for their inspections.
Enduring Freedom/Iraqi Freedom (2001-2005)
In November of 2001, a SMSgt from the 241st was deployed to Whiteman AFB, MO in support of Operation Noble Eagle as a RADAR watch supervisor; he would be recalled back to Rosecrans in two short months later.
On January 13, 2002, the 241st was the first Air Traffic Control Unit activated in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Tower UTC was deployed to Bagram, Afghanistan in Support of Operation Enduring Freedom. There, they would be directly be involved in Operation Anaconda. Simultaneously, the squadron also deployed 45 (Ops/MXS) members, led by Major Gerald Bramstedt, to Pakistan. Three months later, those members were redeployed to Bagram Afghanistan where they would remain until October of that year. The site was a “bare base operation” in which the field was handed over directly from special operation controllers and was the first time an MPN14K RADAR was redeployed in the history of the Air Force. Major Bramstedt would receive the Bronze Star for his actions there.
In March of 2003, three controllers were deployed to Kirkuk AB, Iraq. MSgt Letitia Whitaker received the Bronze Star for her work there, establishing the first air-control service in northern Iraq and supporting over 4,800 combat sorties, including covert operations, medical evacuations and humanitarian airlifts. She was the first woman in the Missouri Air National Guard to receive this decoration.
Also in March of 2003, three members were sent to Baghdad, Iraq in support of OIF. They served as part of a team that opened Saddam International Airport to operations again soon after it was captured. 241st Personnel were the first to operate Arrival and Precision Approach services into the newly reopened Baghdad International Airport.
On April 29, 2003 CMSgt Neil Eayrs deployed for 90 days to CENTAF (US Air Forces, US Central Command) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. CMSgt Eayrs received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal for his actions developing the enroute airspace for the entire AOR. He would also receive the Air Traffic Association Achievement Award; this is a civilian award received for his work in reconstructing and opening up Iraq’s airspace for full utilization for both military and civilian aircraft. CMSgt Eayrs would go on to receive to Air National Guard Enlisted Manager of the Year and the US Air Force Enlisted Manager of the Year for 2003.
CMSgt Denny Albano was deployed to K2 in support of OEF and OIF for two months in November of 2003. CMSgt Albano is regarded as one of, if not the best RADAR maintainer in the Air National Guard. His skills were required to repair the deployed MPN-14K RADAR.
In December of 2004, 14 members of the unit were deployed to provide air traffic services at Mosul Air Base, Iraq for AEF 3 and 4.
Workhorse of the Guard (2005-2015)
To date, the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron has deployed over 70 members in support of Operation OEF and OIF. Several of these members have deployed more than once, and in several different capacities, functioning as everything from Staffing Support to Airfield Operations Flight Officer.
Since 2005, members have been activated in support of several homeland security and contingency support operations such as: Operation Noble Eagle at NAS Key West, Operation Jump Start on the Arizona border, Emerald Warrior/Jaded Thunder in Avon Park, Fl. and Operation Coronet Oak at Muñiz Air National Guard Base.
In September of 2005, members of the 241st were relocated to St. Louis MO in support of the Hurricane Katrina Relief Operation. Two Power Production and HVAC experts assisted in building shelters and showers for refugees and supplied the hospital with air conditioning.
Since 2007, the Tower UTC has supported the EAA Chapter 1405 Fly-In and Wingnuts Flying Circus Airshow in Tarkio, MO, a Fly-in hosted by Missouri Senator Sam Graves.
Members of the 241st were activated during the January 2007 North American Ice Storm in support of relief efforts. Airmen went door to door, checking on the wellness of citizens that were left without power and assisting those in need to local shelters. The 241st also deployed generators to designated areas, where Power Production personnel would utilize them to supply power to neighborhoods who were left without.
When the 2011 Missouri River Flood threatened the city of St. Joseph Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, the 241st was activated to relocate military assets, conduct levee patrols and security, and assist with evacuation support and search and rescue operations. Nearly every member of the unit worked tirelessly, day and night, for several days filling, transporting, and stacking sandbags to keep the oncoming water at bay.
In August of 2016 The 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron hosted delegates from the country of Panama, including members of the Panamanian National Police Force, through a Guard State Partnership Program to assist with temporary shelter and shelter when responding to emergency situations.
Designed by SSG Phillip A. Gregory, a member of the squadron, this emblem was approved and adopted as the official historical emblem of the 241st ATCS by the Institute of Heraldry, United States Army in November of 1998.
The 241 Air Traffic Control Squadron Emblem is representative of the squadron and its readiness to support Air Force, Air National Guard, and the State of Missouri missions.
Indicating our participation in real world deployments is the compass rose and sword. The subdued colors of the compass rose exhibits our loyalty to the flying community in Air Force Blue and our ability to adapt to any situation shown in green. The sword is presented in red and white for courage and wisdom, pointing downward it executes the mission. Indicating our service in training is an oil lamp depicted in Air Force Yellow for the excellence required of all unit personnel. The winged stars symbolize our team of readily deployable personnel in the areas of Administration, Maintenance, and Air Traffic Control Operations. The colors signify excellence and courage in which we complete our specific tasks. The emblem’s black background exhibits our determination in completing all aspects of any mission during peacetime or war.
“NUMQUAM NON PARATI” translates from Latin to “NEVER UNPREPARED”
ecember 24, 1999 – Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
January 8, 2002 – Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
January 3, 2005 – Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
February 27, 2008 – Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
July 1, 2013 – Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
October 31, 2015 – Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Since 2002, the Squadron has adopted a needy family each year during the Christmas time frame ensuring that the family has a good holiday. Many of our members support local programs as mentors, youth coaches, and community leaders.
Since 1997, the 241st ATCS has hosted an annual retiree and awards banquet, in which current members are presented with awards for their achievements and former members are recognized for their service.
Change of Command
Lt. Col. Craig McCord
March 1998 - October 2002
As a 239th Combat Communications Squadron prior enlisted controller, Lt. Col. McCord became the first full-time Commander of the 241st. Lt. Col. McCord oversaw the deployment of 241st personnel and equipment for Operations Joint Guard, Allied Force, and Enduring Freedom, as well as numerous exercises and inspections. After relinquishing command of the 241st for a State Headquarters position. There he would rise to the rank of Brigadier General, serving as the Chief of Staff and Commander of the Missouri Air National Guard. Additionally he served as the National Guards Strategic Planning System and was also designated as a Joint Task Commander for contingency response.
Lt. Col. Gerald Bramstedt
February 2003 – January 2009
Lt. Col. Bramstedt was an enlisted member of the 239th Combat Communications Squadron, stationed at Lambert AFB, St. Louis, Mo. before receiving his commission. He served as an Assistant ATC Operations Officer during Operation Joint Forge and an ATC Operations Officer for Operations Joint Guard and Operation Enduring Freedom. Lt. Col. Bramstedt also deployed in support of Operation Allied Force and received the Bronze Star for his efforts during OEF Bagram AB, Afghanistan.
Major John Howie
January 2009 - July 2014
Major Howie enlisted in the Missouri Air National Guard in 1993 and transferred with the 241st to St. Joseph, Missouri in 1997. As an enlisted airman, he rose to the rank of Master Sergeant before receiving his commission. He deployed in support of several operations including Joint Guard, Allied Force, and Iraqi Freedom. He deployed twice as an Airfield Operations Flight Officer and Director of Operations for Operations Support Squadrons in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Major Patrick Shelton
July 2014 - May 2015
Maj Shelton enlisted in the Missouri Air National Guard in 1998 and attained the rank of TSgt. He deployed in support of several exercises and Operation Enduring Freedom before earning a Commission. Patrick Shelton rose through the ranks to Major before leaving the 241st to assume the position of Commander in the 139th AW Communications Flight.
Major Nathan Vanhoof
Maj Vanhoof transferred from the Louisiana Air National Guard where he was the Chief of Operations for the 259th Air Traffic Control Squadron. In Louisiana, he assisted in the direction of relief efforts for Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Gustav in 2008. Maj Vanhoof assumed command of the 241st ATCS in May of 2015.