388 FW pilot earns prestigious weapons officer Robbie Risner award
By Micah Garbarino, 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 10, 2020
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Maj. Jondavid “Dok” Hertzel, 34th Fighter Squadron Weapons Officer and F-35A pilot, recently won the 2019 Robbie Risner Award.
The award recognizes the Air Force weapons officer who makes the greatest combat impact in their first year after graduation from the Weapons Instructor Course at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
“Dok has had a tremendous opportunity to be a part of some significant milestones in the F-35A program as we find our place in the Department of Defense,” said Lt. Col. Aaron Cavazos, 34th Fighter Squadron commander. “He has seized those opportunities, excelled in all of them, and taken the time to make everyone around him better along the way. What he has accomplished since graduating weapons school is beyond impressive.”
Weapons school is widely known as one of the Air Force’s toughest schools and provides graduate-level combat tactics training to Airmen in a wide-range of specialties. Hertzel, who graduated in December 2018 said weapons school was an amazing experience.
“Graduated weapons officers are expected to take that experience and teach it to the rest of the squadron, and things ramped up quickly at Hill AFB last year,” said Hertzel
It was a busy 2019 for Hertzel and the rest of the 388th FW. As weapons officer in the 421st Fighter Squadron last spring and summer, he helped plan a Theater Support Package to Europe, including several large exercises and integrated fifth-generation fighter training with 18 ally and partner nations. In the fall, he transitioned to the 34th Fighter Squadron just before a short-notice combat deployment to the Middle East. In the intervening months at home, the squadrons had a high-ops tempo, sending jets to several large combat exercises.
“As the only combat F-35A unit in the Air Force, we are constantly getting requests from other units for fighter integration training,” Hertzel said. “I was always amazed to watch how our guys would just run with it and get things done. One of my favorite parts about this job is the high caliber of people I get to work with. That has never been more apparent to me than over this last year with all of the difficult taskings we received. It was like watching a professional sports team running plays and making it look easy.”