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Senior Airman Jacob Henry, 22, of the 610th Air Control Flight at Misawa Air Base, Japan, is one of four airmen in the Air Force to be selected for the Advanced Weapons Director School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The school is to start in January.

Senior Airman Jacob Henry, 22, of the 610th Air Control Flight at Misawa Air Base, Japan, is one of four airmen in the Air Force to be selected for the Advanced Weapons Director School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The school is to start in January. (Jennifer H. Svan / S&S)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Senior Airman Jacob Henry is moving to the head of the class.

The 22-year-old weapons director with the 610th Air Control Flight at Misawa is one of four airmen in the Air Force to be selected for the Advanced Weapons Director School that starts in January at Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

Henry will be the first senior airman to attend the school since it began in 1997, according to Air Force officials at Misawa.

Only the top air controllers in the Air Force receive the training, which is the enlisted ranks’ equivalent of officer fighter weapons school, said Capt. Wayne Frost, the 610th’s director of operations.

Over five months, Henry will study the capabilities and limitations of airframes and their weapons systems, including those from countries that may pose a threat to the United States.

“It teaches them tactics, techniques and employment of all fighter aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Nathaniel Roney, 610th ACF superintendent of operations. That including how, for example, “we’re going to take this F-16 and employ it against the bad guy.”

The training will be intense, with a typical day lasting 14 to 16 hours with plenty of homework and exams throughout, said Roney, a former instructor at the school.

Passing the course isn’t a given, but Henry said he’s determined to give it his best shot.

“I am nervous but very excited. I’m always up for a challenge,” he said.

Roney said it’s rare for air controllers to be ready for advanced weapons training at such an early stage in their career.

Henry, apparently, is a fast learner. When he signed up for the Air Force four years ago, he said, he knew nothing about his career field — aerospace control and warning systems. He said the recruiter told him, “You’ll be working with radars and satellites. Henry responded, “Sounds cool; sign me up.”

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
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