In every elite organization, there is the person who we all refer to as “that guy” or “that girl”…a “go-to” person.

The Squadron Weapons Officer

They are the ones with the answers — even to questions we’ve not yet formulated or the ones we’re afraid to ask for fear of looking like ignorant fools in front of our peers. The thing that makes that guy different from a pompous, know-it-all jackass loathed by his colleagues is the willingness to share information, impart wisdom, or provide the extra push needed to get over the hump of whatever challenge is at hand.

They are the superstars, and if they were athletes in professional leagues, they would be the ones whose names are on display at the Hall of Fame. They elevate the game of everyone around them and inspire greatness in the individuals and organizations they serve.

Colonel Robert A. “Shark” Garland, Jr., Commandant of the United States Air Force Weapons School from 2011 to 2013, watches a B-1B Lancer preparing to shut down after arriving at Nellis AFB, NV.

In the United States Air Force, the person most often referred to as that guy is the squadron weapons officer. Known as a “Patch” or “Patch wearer,” a weapons officer not only bears a heavy responsibility but possesses the uncanny ability to rise to the top of the heap despite any adversity standing in his path.

He serves as an advisor to military leaders at all levels, to both those actually in uniform and those in elected or nominated government positions.

These officers are the ones who teach the Air Force‘s teachers—the corps of instructors—providing that service with a deep reservoir of tactical expertise and operational understanding.

It is a guild of dependable problem-solvers and tacticians that enable the Air Force to integrate its prowess seamlessly alongside other military services.

The graduate patch of the USAF Weapons School, worn on the left sleeve for the rest of a weapons officer’s career, isn’t something handed out to anyone who walks through the doors.