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Missouri Airman receives aircraft assist award

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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Luke Sherrell, an air traffic controller assigned to the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, holds the Lt. Gen. Gordon A. Blake Aircraft Assist Award Oct. 5, 2019 at Rosecrans Air National Guard Base, St. Joseph, Missouri. Sherrell received the award for alerting a civilian pilot that an engine vent cover was still in place during the pilots start up procedures. Sherrell’s actions prevented potential catastrophic damages to the aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by 2nd Lt. Adam Miller)

ROSECRANS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mo. --

On Oct. 5, 2019 U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Luke Sherrell, an air traffic controller assigned to the 241st Air Traffic Control Squadron, Missouri Air National Guard, was awarded the Lt. Gen. Gordon A. Blake Aircraft Assist Award for his actions here May 3, 2019.

Sherrell was assigned to the combined flight data and ground control position in the control tower at Rosecrans Memorial Airport during the “Biannual Beechnutz Formation Clinic” where a large volume of small, civilian aircraft were in attendance.

While the pilots were performing their engine start up procedures, Sherrell noticed one aircraft still had an engine vent cover in place. Sherrell was unable to contact the pilot via radio, so he contacted another pilot to reach out via inter-aircraft communication. The pilot was able to shut down his aircraft and remove the cover before any damage could occur to his $100,000 aircraft.

Sherrell said if the engine vent cover had not been removed, it could have caused total engine failure due to the metal grommets on the cover.

Sherrell credits his mentors of his ten years of military and air traffic control experience in helping him spot potential problems with aircraft. Before joining the 139th Airlift Wing at Rosecrans, he served as an active duty air traffic controller at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and Italy.

“Listen to the people who have done the job before you,” he said. “Take their advice to help you learn and grow every day.”