Fairchild Airmen win Air Mobility Command Tanker Tactician Awards

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  • 509th Weapons Squadron

Two Airmen assigned to the 509th Weapons Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, received awards for outstanding achievements during the 2023 Mobility Air Forces Weapons and Tactics Conference at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Aug. 31, 2023.

Maj. Jonathan Weir, a KC-135 weapons officer and instructor pilot, and Tech. Sgt. James Shaffer, standards and evaluations flight chief, earned recognition as the 2022 field grade officer and noncommissioned officer tacticians of the year, respectively.

“It was very surprising,” said Shaffer. “Winning the award was a great ending to the weeks of hard work building up to and during the conference.”

Weir and Shaffer both worked on several projects before and after joining the 509th Weapons Squadron that contributed to their awards.

Weir deployed with the 92nd Air Refueling Squadron into the European theater at the beginning of the Ukraine Crisis. He led young crews as a weapons officer giving information and tactics during a time of high tension and unknowns.

“In the first few months of the Ukrainian Crisis, people weren’t sure how Russia would react to the American presence in eastern Europe,” said Weir. “So, the crews took it very seriously. They asked in-depth questions and wanted more information about how to navigate this airspace, which was an awesome moment in my career.”

Shaffer started the Multi-Capable Airman program at Fairchild AFB to teach students the skills of other career fields for better unit cohesion and tactical preparedness for future conflicts.

“Every Airman plays an important role in our Air Force,” said Shaffer. “No matter what uniform you wear, what squadron or group you are assigned to or what your career field is we still belong to the same family and depend on each other to be able to execute the mission. The MCA program is critical in providing the training and skills to our Airmen that help them successfully execute the tanker mission.”

The 509th Weapons Squadron is a schoolhouse at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington, that trains the next generation of weapons officers and advanced instructors. Graduates often go on to advise pilots and inflight refueling specialists navigating present and future airspace challenges.

“There’s a lot of job satisfaction in training highly motivated pilots and inflight refueling specialists,” said Weir. “We take them from general aircrew-level of tactics and operational knowledge and bring them up to a graduate-level, so that they can leave the course able to instruct younger crews and further the Tanker mission.”