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258th Air Traffic Control Squadron Celebrates 25 Years

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kyle Brooks
  • 171st Air Refueling Wing

The 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron is celebrating 25 years since its founding in Johnstown, Pennsylvania this May 2022.

In May of 1997, the 258th began relocating from the 114th Tactical Control Flight in State College, Pennsylvania, to their new home at the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport. It was a busy year for the squadron, since all Air traffic control equipment and personnel all needed relocated.  

The establishment of the new base came with unique challenges. Buildings were not fully constructed yet so Airmen had to work and live out of temporary buildings. Initial accommodations for the squadron were a temporary wooden shed on the edge of the runway utilized as a control tower, and mobile-home type trailers serving as training and office facilities. At the time, the Johnstown airfield was an uncontrolled area so Airmen were able to walk right into the airfield to maintain equipment.

In the year 2000, an air traffic control tower was constructed for Airmen to work in. The tower supports ATC controllers who communicate with aircraft movements both taking off and landing as well as all movements on the airport. The cost of the tower was $4 million, with an additional $1.4 million provided for air traffic control equipment and supporting systems. It wasn’t until 2002, that the 258th had the full building and infrastructure to occupy. Later, the 258th upgraded to become a RAPCON or radar approach control facility. This improved the capabilities for the 258th, including expanding ATC to approximately 12 airfields and 3952 square miles.  

The events of 9/11 started a constant deployment rotation of personnel and air traffic control equipment from the 258th. The 258th has supported many major operations over the years including Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Night Stalker, and Inherent Resolve. Hundreds of Airmen from the 258th ATCS surpassed thousands of days deployed stateside and overseas to provide air traffic control services and equipment day in and day out, warranting its motto, victory over darkness.

Numerous members of the 258th ATCS have been awarded major command level awards within their career fields. Along with the success of individual Guardsmen, the 258th ATCS received a group merit when being awarded the D. Ray Hardin USAF Air Traffic Control Facility of the year in 2011 and 2019, along with the USAF Lima Site 85 Team of the year in 2019. Additionally, the 258th ATCS was awarded the Meritorious Unit Award in 2020 for its involvement in Operation Inherent Resolve.

The current staffing for the squadron is 34 full-time personnel, and 62 traditional (part-time) personnel and 16 Department of Defense title 5 civilians. The existing annual economic impact of the squadron’s full-time personnel to the Greater Johnstown area is more than $4.8 million.

“The legacy of excellence here is alive and well, the people here are amazing and make things happen, and to be a part of this organization makes me both humble and proud.  Because of the people here, and this amazing legacy, the next 25 years will be very bright for the men and women of the 258th,” said Lt. Col. Frank Shoaf, Commander of the 258th Air Traffic Control Squadron.