Best Combat Crew Communications Team in Air Force Reserve at Grissom

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Rachel Barton

The Air Force Reserve Command recently recognized the 434th Operations Support Squadron Combat Crew Communications for outstanding performance in 2022.

The unit received the award for Outstanding Combat Crew Comm Team of the Year and Master Sgt. William Ellison, 434th OSS Combat Crew Communications Training Senior Non-commissioned Officer, took the title of 2022 Combat Crew Communications Outstanding Senior Non-commissioned Officer.

The shop, commonly referred to as Crew Comm, is responsible for the communications resources an aircrew uses during their flying missions.

“Safe passage, in a nutshell, is what we provide here,” said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Copp, 434th OSS, senior enlisted leader of combat crew communications.

To provide that safe passage, Crew Comm issues communications kits to the aircrews that flying Grissom’s KC-135R Stratotankers.

“Whether that be a hardened PDA that puts codes into the jet that tells everybody else that they’re friendly, or a flight publication that tells them a runway is under construction,” said Copp. “Anything that keeps the aircrew safe and the aircraft safe, that’s our job.”

Copp spoke highly of his team for their commitment to excellence and consistency in their duties.

“The nature of what we do with the stuff inside of that vault, the codebooks, communication security items that they handle, they have to be correct 100% of the time, all the time,” said Copp. “And they do that very well.”

2022 was a busy year for Crew Comm, according to Ellison. Not only were they meeting the communication needs for the largest KC-135 unit in the Air Force Reserve Command, but they were also in the midst of significant changes to their career field.

“They expanded the career field to bring more cyber into us,” said Ellison.  “That transition was a big part of the workload in 2022. All of us had to train up on the cyber side and we had to set up quality assurance which is a whole new program for us.”

Ellison was tasked with getting the team in compliance with the new requirements.

“We tallied it up and it was like 100 hours just to be brought up to speed and be considered 5-levels,” said Ellison.  “They had to do a lot of catch up, to incorporate this big change and they all got it done.”

Whether there are more deployments in the future, or the possibility of a new airframe to replace the aging KC-135s, Grissom’s Crew Comm is committed to continue to meet their next challenge with unmatched expertise.

“I’m extremely proud of SMSgt Copp and the entire Crew Comm section,” said Lt. Col. David Curl, 434th OSS commander. “Their professionalism and dedication to their craft is on display every day.  It’s fitting that they continue to be recognized for their consistent excellence."