SAN ANGELO, Texas – Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Aircraft Handling), or ABH, 2nd Class James Carson, an instructor assigned to the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Lemoore Learning Site Goodfellow with also a supporting role to Information Warfare Training Command (IWTC)Monterey Det. Goodfellow, is paramount in training and preparing the Navy’s aviation and information warfare Sailors.
Tucked away towards the east end of Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, lies a cluster of structures, towers, and mock-up aircraft that make up the military’s premier airfield operations firefighting school, named the Lewis F. Garland Department of Defense (DoD) Fire Academy. This is a joint-venture schoolhouse which trains all four DoD services, as well as the Coast Guard, DoD and state civilians, and foreign partners. Additionally, the Navy sends ABH (Aircraft Handling) Sailors bound for firefighting operations ashore through this school for non-shipboard firefighting training.
Led by Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Aircraft Handling) Jason Norrod and Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Aircraft Handling) Diana Gomez, this team of instructors that includes Carson trains over 2,100 personnel annually. In addition to firefighting training, students are taught emergency medical responder, similar to emergency medical technician procedures, vehicle and aircraft extraction, ropes and ladders, blackout search and rescue, confined space extraction, repelling, climbing, and hazardous materials containment. These skills are critical for Sailors who are assigned as firefighters at air bases around the world, they will not only support the flight line, but all DoD interests on the base. If you have lived on a Navy base, the firefighters on that base most likely came through this school.
Every morning, controlled burns are conducted that test the abilities of staff and students alike. One such staff member is Carson, and in the early morning hours, you can often find him on the pad teaching dozens of freshly-minted servicemembers how to properly mitigate the dangers and extinguish a violent fire. Yes, this is a controlled burn in a training environment, but make no mistake – the fire is absolutely real and searingly hot. Carson’s safety record is perfect, and his care for his students is the example for all to follow.
To sum it all up, when asked what it was like to be an instructor, Carson offered a solid perspective on his duties, stating, “The overall best thing is making sure the fleet gets, in my opinion, a great product.”
A subject matter expert and exemplary leader, he is respected among his students, peers, and senior leadership alike. In 2019, Carson was selected as the Navy DoD Fire Instructor of the Year, which has motivated him to excel even more.
Born in Ozark, Alabama, Carson joined the Navy at 20 years old. Military service was part of his family heritage, and he wanted to follow in grandfather’s footsteps. Over the past nine years, he has served aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), and USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77). His passion for the ABH community camaraderie is what keeps him Navy.
Despite his strenuous career and frequent deployments away from his family, Carson still carved out the time to further his education. Having already earned two associate’s degrees, he is on track to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership in February 2021. Ultimately, he is studying to become an anesthesiologist.
Although Carson is a primarily a firefighting instructor, he along with other CNATTU Lemoore Learning Site Goodfellow Sailors work alongside IWTC Monterey Det. Goodfellow Sailors. Since the Navy and Coast Guard onboard Goodfellow Air Force Base are a very small contingent, with fewer than 150 combined staff and students at any given time, the units must integrate to ensure that all staff and administrative support is provided for those Sailors and Coast Guardsmen. Both Det.’s Sailors rely on each other to ensure the mission is completed.
Therefore, Carson is also the command career counselor (CCC) for CNATTU and the assistant CCC for IWTC Monterey Det Sailors, where he has overseen three reenlistments, three separations, and countless career development boards. He is a member of the command resiliency team and brings excellent perspective to the combined Det. He serves as the training petty officer for CNATTU and is the suicide prevention coordinator for all hands. He is always ensuring that senior leadership understands the challenges students and staff face and finds creative ways to keep the Sailors socially engaged. Carson is also the assistant education services officer and coordinates the Master Training Specialist (MTS) program at his schoolhouse, yet provides training and mentoring for instructors across the Det., where his efforts have led to the MTS qualification of five staff members.
IWTC Monterey Det. Goodfellow is aligned under IWTC Monterey. As part of the CIWT domain, they provide a continuum of foreign language training to Navy personnel, which prepares them to conduct information warfare across the full spectrum of military operations.
With four schoolhouse commands, a detachment, and training sites throughout the United States and Japan, CIWT trains over 22,000 students every year, delivering trained information warfare professionals to the Navy and joint services. CIWT also offers more than 200 courses for cryptologic technicians, intelligence specialists, information systems technicians, electronics technicians, and officers in the information warfare community.
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