Team Dover’s first enlisted member graduates U.S.A.F Weapons School

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Dieondiere Jefferies
  • 436th Airlift Wing

Dover Air Force Base has never been a stranger to accomplishing unprecedented tasks thanks to the Airmen that make the mission happen. One Team Dover member was recently called upon to do just that and succeeded with flying colors.

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Tillmon, a 3rd Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster, recently became the first enlisted member from Dover AFB, Delaware, to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Weapons School.

“Tillman is now an expert on how we deploy as a joint force,” said Lt. Col. John Gerlach, 436th Operations Support Squadron commander, and a former U.S.A.F Weapons School Instructor. “Tillmon has increased our ability to create robust training profiles, and [he] can help us when we deploy into actual combat, by communicating what he's learned from the course with the Joint force.”

The U.S. Air Force Weapons School trains system experts, weapons instructors and leadership to exploit air, space and cyberspace on behalf of the joint force.

The majority of their enlisted graduates are from bases that conduct airdrop missions, making it uncommon for Airmen from bases without that mission set to be selected.

“It was nice to see they were selecting people from smaller bases…[and to] get Dover on the map for that,” said Tillmon.

Tillmon explained that the process of being accepted into the weapons school began with a lot of paperwork and waiting. Tillmon also had to travel to South Carolina for an airdrop refresher course before going directly into the six-month-long weapons training course.

“Our deployments are three months, so this was like a double deployment for me,” said Tillmon. “[Weapons system school] was the longest [training] I think I have had to do for the Air Force since tech school.”

The weapons school curriculum is similar to a college course but condenses its material into shorter timelines, which can create some unique challenges for Airmen.

“There's a lot you have to learn,” said Tillmon. “They [would give] us one class on , then no-fail-test us [on it] the next day. You have to be really good [with] your time management skills.”

Tillmon explained that his classmates helped him stay motivated during the course, which paralleled his own motivation of going to weapons school to help his peers at his duty station.

“I did it for all the Airmen in my squadron and any squadrons I go to [next],” said TIllmon. “[I did it] to help [the squadron’s] loadmasters be better prepared for the future fight.”

Tillmon’s new found expertise has made him a valuable asset for Team Dover. Beyond technical expertise, Tillmon has also gained confidence in himself through the course.

“The first few months in the course I felt like I was out of my league,” said Tillmon. “[It] turns out that wasn’t true; Everyone is capable of doing things that they thought they couldn't.”