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Award-winning air traffic controllers have family ties

Oct. 20, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
Staff Sgt. Matt Morrow, left, was named Watch Supervisor of the Quarter for July through September at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Retired Master Sgt. Bruce Morrow, right, now a Defense Department civilian, received the same award at MacDill Air Force Base.
Staff Sgt. Matt Morrow, left, was named Watch Supervisor of the Quarter for July through September at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Retired Master Sgt. Bruce Morrow, right, now a Defense Department civilian, received the same award at MacDill Air Force Base. (Courtesy Bruce Morrow)
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Two air traffic control watch supervisors at two Air Force bases received the same award for the same quarter. What makes this unique? They’re father and son.

Staff Sgt. Matt Morrow was named Watch Supervisor of the Quarter for July through September at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Retired Master Sgt. Bruce Morrow, now a Defense Department civilian, received the same award at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Both men were attracted to their work at early ages, thanks to their fathers’ intervention.

“My dad was a police officer at an airport, and when I was about 13 years old, he would take me to the airport tower,” Bruce said. “I thought it was so cool, and I wanted the opportunity to work in a tower like that later on in life.”

And like his father before him, Bruce took his young son to work with him.

“When [Matt] was about 2 or 3 years old, I would take him up in the tower [at former Eaker Air Force Base, Ark.] and let him play with the runway lights,” Bruce said. “He got to see what being an air traffic controller was all about at an early age.”

Matt has been in the Air Force almost eight years and received his air traffic control watch supervisor certification in February.

Bruce retired from the Air Force in 2007 after 20 years as an air traffic controller, but went back into the same job as a DoD civilian.

“I have found myself kind of following in my father’s footsteps from time to time,” Matt said. Now, “he’s officially doing the same thing as me. We just happen to be 20 years apart.”

Matt said the award is competitive because there are more than 30 watch supervisors at his base tower.

“I also won this award for the first quarter of this year, but I was excited and got on the phone to call my dad and tell him,” Matt said.

About a week later, Bruce called Matt, telling him he had won the award for the same quarter, too.

“I couldn’t believe it — I thought it was so cool,” Bruce said. Bruce had won the award at previous bases, but this was his first at MacDill, he said.

This father-and-son duo from Cabot, Ark., has overlapped in other ways: When Matt graduated Air Traffic Control school at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., in 2005, his dad was the speaker at his graduation.

“Matt and I also have the same operating initials — when we communicate over the landlines, our operating initials label who’s calling — at the control tower,” Bruce said. “We both have Mike-Whiskey as our initials.”

“Whenever I email Matt, I always sign my emails, ‘MW, the original,’” Bruce said.

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