In early February, a Special Operations Forces (SOF) Air Commando received one of the most important awards in the defense industry.
Capt. Cole D. Geldernick, a Combat Aviation Advisor Air Liaison Officer serving with the 6th Special Operations Squadron (6th SOS), earned the 2018 National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict Superior Achievement Award.
Among his other achievements, Captain Geldernick is credited for coordinating the first utilization of the Cessna 208 aircraft in Close Air Support (CAS) roles. During this process, he trained operators for the 7th Special Forces Group and the 23 Special Tactics Squadron in the effective integration of the Cessna 208 to support troops in contact.
Captain Geldernick currently serves as the commanding officer of ground training in the CAS course for American, allied, and partner nations’ SOF. More specifically, the course assesses, trains, advises, and assists operators in airspace planning and Joint Terminal Attack procedures (JTAC).
Following the award announcement, Lt. Col. Walter “Rocky” Harvey, the commander of the 6th SOS, said “Cole has been absolutely instrumental in establishing (along with Capt. Nathan Maxton) our fires shop from scratch in our squadron—meeting this challenge head on. As the first two JTACs assigned to the unit, they have built our program, but continue to build Air to Ground Integration programs in both the PACOM and CENTCOM theaters.”
Captain Geldernick commissioned through the United States Air Force Reserve Officer Training Core program in 2010. He then successfully applied to and was selected for tactical air control party training, which he completed in 2011. He served with the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron, a unit he deployed with to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Upon his return from Afghanistan, he underwent the Joint Terminal Attack Controller Qualification course, from which he graduated as an honors student. He then deployed with the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron in Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014.
With regard to Captain Geldernick’s personal qualities, Lieutenant Colonel Harvey said “Cole is a true quiet professional. He epitomizes the foundational attribute of our culture, which is a servant leader with humble confidence.”
The NDIA award is given once every year to an individual who is pivotal in the Special Operations, Low-Intensity Conflict, or Irregular Warfare fields. Additionally, the individual has to show support for the NDIA’s objective of bringing together government agencies and the industry to address issues in the Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict spectrums.