STS officer wins top AFSOC CGO award

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Aaron Cram
  • 353rd Special Operations Group
A flight commander with the 320th Special Tactics Squadron here was recently named as Air Force Special Operations Command's Company Grade Officer of the Year for 2009.

Capt. Garrett Ianacone, who also won Team Kadena's CGO of the Year Award for 2009, attributes the award to his love for his job, the variety of work it brings his way and his teammates and subordinates who helped him throughout the year.

"This award highlights what has been a very busy and event filled year, both personally and professionally," said Captain Ianacone. "I'm honored to represent combat control, the 320th Special Tactics Squadron, and the 353rd Special Operations Group. Special tactics and the SOG have been doing amazing work throughout Asia and this award validates those efforts and accomplishments. Every one of our people supports special tactics in our amazing missions every day and I recognize their contribution in this recognition."

Day-to-day, the Special Tactics Officer is charged with leading an 18-man Special Tactics team in the U.S. Pacific Command theater, but routinely steps up to fill other roles. During 2009, Captain Ianacone served as the squadron commander for a month, deployed supporting combat operations, served as the 320th STS director of operations for the largest Joint Chiefs of Staff exercise, and the STS mission commander for three exercises.

While deployed as a joint terminal attack controller attached to a U.S. Army Special Forces team, the captain participated in countless missions to locate, disrupt and destroy insurgent safe havens. On one mission he controlled AH-64, MQ-1 and A-10 aircraft attacks against enemy mortar positions during a six-hour raid on an insurgent stronghold. Captain Ianacone also helped deliver more than 50 Special Operations soldiers and 32,000 pounds of supplies by controlling nine helicopter landings overcoming enemy antiaircraft artillery in Taliban controlled areas.

When he's not deployed for contingency operations or training exercises, the captain is constantly preparing himself and team at home station. He graduated a U.S. Marine Corps jungle survival course and completed joint terminal attack controller certification in less than six months. He also planned and executed a joint special operations exercise integrating Army, Marine and Air Force aviation. Captain Ianacone completed the an advanced radio system course and Advanced Special Operations initial familiarization training -- one of only eight Air Force people trained in the USPACOM theater. He even identified and instituted weekly combat training in the 320th STS to sharpen the Airmen's special tactics fundamentals.

Captain Ianacone also rapidly completed Squadron Officer School by correspondence and initiated six credit hours toward his graduate degree while actively support community events. He supported America Fest 2009, Kadena Marina and Okinawa seawall clean-up efforts and helped raise more than $800 for school and sports equipment for Malaysian students.

"Successful leaders always lead from the front and Captain Ianacone has done that in his tenure at the 320th," said Maj. Jason Self, the 320th STS commander. "I am proud of the leadership he exhibits daily while representing the Air Force with our Airmen and Special Operations partners in the Pacific. Winning the AFSOC level CGO of the year award against a wealth of high caliber officers with the MAJCOM speaks very highly of his many accolades."