Recently promoted 86 OSS MSgt excels in new role

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Bruce Black, 86th Operations Support Squadron tower assistant chief controller, coordinates with another controller at Ramstein Air Base, Aug. 24.

An 86th Operations Support Squadron Airman was awarded Airlifter of the Week for his performance during numerous challenging tasks within a new position, at Ramstein Air Base, Aug. 18.

Master Sgt. Bruce Black, 86th OSS tower assistant chief controller, recently stepped into his new rank and position and quickly demonstrated he was the perfect pick for the job.

Black and his team are critical in leading air traffic operations at United States Air Forces in Europe’s most critical power projection platform, Ramstein Air Base.

“As one of the squadron’s newest master sergeants, he embodies what it means to be a senior non-commissioned officer,” said Lt. Col. Henry Pflugradt, 86th OSS commander.

In the duration of one week, Black navigated a series of unique challenges. First, he coordinated new flight departure and arrival patterns due to the erection of a crane over the autobahn east of runway 26.

The crane that popped up presented a number of obstacles for the air traffic control tower, but Black presented safety concerns and alternate flight suggestions to leadership and helped navigate the continuation of operations.

Additionally, he assisted in the relay of information to an emergency response after an unexploded ordnance was discovered in the southwest area of base, and lastly, he was the OSS lead for Operation Infinity, Brig. Gen. Mark R. August’s fini-flight.

He performed all of these feats with a cool head while also maintaining his day-to-day supervisory duties.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Bruce Black, 86th Operations Support Squadron tower assistant chief controller, poses for a photo in the air traffic control tower at Ramstein Air Base, Aug. 18. Black was selected as Airlifter of the Week for his exceptional leadership and coordination of recent operations.

“Master Sgt. Black’s calm demeanor not only helps to lead Airmen through high stress situations, but also instills them with the confidence to achieve new heights in their personal and professional lives,” said Col. Matthew S. Husemann, 86th Airlift Wing vice commander. “I was humbled to watch him in action as the tower executed its mission while simultaneously performing upgrade training for all of the new air traffic control Airmen.”

Black, a native of Columbus, Georgia, says he unwinds in his off time by cooking and has recently started to try his hand at various woodworking projects. He built a couple of corn-hole boards and plans to build a toy chest for his son next.

Steady hands and a calm demeanor are just a part of what makes Black successful in his endeavors. His hard work and dedication have contributed to his achievements and helped Ramstein sustain rapid global mobility in the wake of a pandemic.

Although the world has struggled to operate in the shadow of COVID-19, Black and his controllers have not only maintained continuity of operations, but have accelerated their own readiness through robust training and improved scheduling, Pflugradt said.

Even with all the praise he has received and the challenges that have been presented to him, Black remains modest and attributes his success to the support of his team.

“Being recognized as the Airlifter of the Week is definitely an honor, but I’m a small part within the airfield operations community,” said Black. “Ramstein is the gateway to the world and for that to remain true, the airfield has to remain open 24/7/365 and our team is constantly making that happen. This year has thrown a lot of punches at us, but we keep doing our part to stay healthy while overseeing 14,000 operations in and out of Ramstein Air Base, and we aren’t done yet.”

It is capable and confident Airmen like Black that contribute to Ramstein’s reputation of being the World’s Best Wing.