HomeNewsNews

Pilot, ABM maintain strong bond, even stronger when it’s family

U.S. Air Force Col. Randall W. Cason, 44th Fighter Group commander, and his son 2nd Lt. Randall W. Cason III, 337th Air Control Squadron Air Battle Manager, share a special moment in front of an F-22 Raptor at the Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., flightline June 16, 2017. As an Air Battle Manager, 2nd Lt. Cason provides command and control to aircraft during combat operations and had the opportunity to support his father during a training mission over the Gulf Coast waters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Randall W. Cason, 44th Fighter Group commander, and his son 2nd Lt. Randall W. Cason III, 337th Air Control Squadron Air Battle Manager, share a special moment in front of an F-22 Raptor at the Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., flightline June 16, 2017. As an Air Battle Manager, 2nd Lt. Cason provides command and control to aircraft during combat operations and had the opportunity to support his father during a training mission over the Gulf Coast waters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Randall W. Cason, 44th Fighter Group commander (left), and his son 2nd Lt. Randall W. Cason III (right), 337th Air Control Squadron Air Battle Manager, stand in front of an F-22 Raptor at the Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., flightline June 16, 2017. Just like his grandfather and father, 2nd Lt. Cason joined the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa/Released)

U.S. Air Force Col. Randall W. Cason, 44th Fighter Group commander (left), and his son 2nd Lt. Randall W. Cason III (right), 337th Air Control Squadron Air Battle Manager, stand in front of an F-22 Raptor at the Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., flightline June 16, 2017. Just like his grandfather and father, 2nd Lt. Cason joined the U.S. military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Sergio A. Gamboa/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The relationship between a fighter pilot and their air battle managers is a strong bond to break -- they must trust one another in order to complete their mission.

One of the newest air battle managers has a unique, special bond with one of Tyndall’s fighter pilots: a bond 23 years in the making.

Second Lt. Randall W. Cason III, a recent 337th Air Control Squadron ABM graduate, had the opportunity to advise an F-22 pilot he’s known his whole life, his father Col. Randall W. Cason, 44th Fighter Group commander, during a training mission.

“I was slightly concerned, in that I hoped he did as well as I knew he could do, and a little bit nervous,” Colonel Cason said about his son being his assigned ABM. “At the end, it was one of the best student-control missions I have ever flown on.

“I had a big smile on my face the whole time,” he added.

Air battle managers at the 337th ACS learn a diverse set of skills allowing them to direct airborne assets across a widespread range of combat operations, playing a vital role in air missions.

“Things are not always as they appear, and he is a second set of eyes that is watching,” Colonel Cason. “I may think there [are] only two bad guys when there [are] actually four, and he will know that. He verifies and provides additional information that can be critical and key to the mission.

“In order to perform any type of mission we perform, we always have to have an air battle manager helping us out. They are absolutely necessary for us to be successful,” the pilot added.

Having a father who is a fighter pilot gives Lieutenant Cason an advantage few other ABMs have.

“If I need the pilot’s perspective to do my job better, I can always go to him for advice,” Lieutenant Cason said.

According to the air battle manager, growing up as a fighter pilot’s son was the coolest thing in the world to him, but being in the military wasn’t always on the back of his mind.

“It’s not what I wanted to do, but the older I got the more I realized it gave me direction and purpose -- working for something bigger than yourself,” he added.

The biggest piece of advice Lieutenant Cason took to heart from his dad was to work hard, do your best and be a “bro.” Words he shares with others.

“Always strive for excellence and take your mistakes and learn from them. Do your best to help others,” the ABM said.

Everything his father has done for him means the world to Lieutenant Cason, and he is appreciative for all his father has done.

“I am where I am today because I’ve had you growing up,” Lieutenant Cason said with a smile as he glanced at his father. “You’ve been a leader in my life and someone who has pushed me to be the best that I can be. I appreciate it, and I love you.”