MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
After an intense 13 days of classroom and practical weapons training, Airman 1st Class Damon Tillis, an entry controller with the 6th Security Forces Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, proved himself as an advanced designated marksman.
An ADM performs as the sniper and spotter on a two-person team. They must protect flightlines, act as over-watch, and render special weapons and tactics duties for other Security Forces operations such as Emergency Services Teams.
“Tillis hit the ground running as soon as he in-processed to MacDill,” said Tech. Sgt. James Terry, 6th SFS Flight Sergeant. “He was determined to be part of the Emergency Services Team as soon as he completed his career development courses, of which he earned a 90% on.”
To become part of the EST, an additional duty for SFS troops, Tillis had to pass rigorous physical and mental tests to prove himself out of his 400-member squadron. Once earning his role on the 11-member EST, he pushed himself even further by applying for the Advanced Designated Marksmanship course in Fort Bliss, El Paso, Texas.
“I found out that I was going to ADM in February and left in April,” said Tillis. “That gave me about a month to prepare."
Tillis is one of only three ADM's on MacDill's EST; he is the Airman the team relies on for expert special weapons and tactics actions.
"Tillis is a great asset to the team; the skills he brings from the ADM course is vital to our success," said Tech. Sgt. Trevor Griffith, 6th SFS/EST Entry Team Leader.
The ADM course began with classroom instruction on mastering weapon system nomenclature and various in-depth fundamentals. The remainder of the course took place on the range where teams practiced weapons firing in scenarios of both known and unknown distances.
“The one other Airman and I [rucked] together and reminded each other that failing was not an option. Anything you’re going through now doesn’t last forever. You just have to get through it to get where you want to go," said Tillis.
“I thought the school was unbelievably informative and educational,” he added. “I didn’t think it was possible to learn so much in such a short time span and the instructors were great.”
Moving forward, Tillis wants to attend as many schools as possible to further his technical skills, such as the U.S. Army Sniper School and Snipercraft.
“Tillis spends 40 hours a month conducting EST training and honing his skills and is always willing to help his fellow Airmen,” said Terry. “During the time that Tillis was selected for EST, he was the only Airman on the team and has since inspired his fellow Airmen to take advantage of the unique opportunities that MacDill has to offer.”
Going beyond the call of duty, Tillis dedicates his free time alongside his SFS team to ensure MacDill stays safe, ultimately allowing the mission to succeed.