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From technical training to hurricane relief

Maintainer

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Douglas Kruse, an airfield systems maintainer assigned to the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, checks radar equipment operability at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Mo., on July 15, 2018. Kruse was selected as the 2018 Maintainer of the Year for his unit. (U.S. National Guard photo by Senior Airman Andrew Rivera)

Mobile Tower

A mobile air traffic control tower assigned to the 241st Airt Traffic Control Squadron sits at Mercedita Airport in Ponce, Puerto Rico, on Oct. 30, 2017. The squadron was activated to assist with hurricane relief efforts. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jason Geyer)

ROSECRANS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mo. --

As Puerto Rico began recovering from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Airman 1st Class Douglas Kruse graduated from technical school at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., on Oct. 3, 2017.

Thirteen days later, his unit, the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron was activated for hurricane relief efforts in Ponce, Puerto Rico. Kruse was among the airmen who volunteered for this emergency.

When his unit landed at Mercedita Airport in Ponce, they were responsible for manning airspace through the MSN-7 Mobile Air Traffic Control Tower. The island was in need of relief supplies and the ability to evacuate local residents by airplane.

During their five week mission, the squadron saw 1,500 aircraft come through the airport with their busiest day reaching just over 150 aircraft, according to Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin Taube, an air traffic controller assigned to the 241st ATCS.

Kruse aided in corrective action with issues during the operation of the mobile tower. Kruse said, “It was a great experience to actually setup the tower in a deployed location.”  

He also helped a local church by organizing food and water to be distributed among local residents seeking relief.

Kruse was named the 241st ATCS Maintainer of the Year and received the ‘Dennis W. Albano Award of Excellence.’

The award is given to a 241st airman who embodies leadership, discipline, and overall improvement of self and duty.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Redd, noncommissioned officer in charge of airfield systems said, “He’s enabled multiple missions that would not have been possible without him.”