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Blue Horizon AY 16 Bios

  • Published
  • USAF Center for Strategy and Technology, Air University, Maxwell AFB, AL

Lt Col Travis J. Hill started his military career as an enlisted airman and then commissioned from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University ROTC in 1994. His is a Command Pilot with over 4,800 hours, 750 combat hours, and has been mission qualified in various versions of the C/MC-130, the PC-6, PC-12, C-208, DHC-6/8, the CV-22 and other aircraft.  He commanded both the 9th and 8th Special Operations Squadrons flying the MC-130 and CV-22 respectively and has multiple combat deployments to OEF, OIF, HOA and other small scale contingencies as pilot, Joint Special Operations Detachment Commander, J-3 and Squadron Commander.  He attended Air Command and Staff College, numerous courses at the USAF Special Operations School and served as J-5 Special Plans for Joint Special Operations Command, Ft Bragg, NC. 

Lt Col Eric D. Hresko is a career Instructor Weapon Systems Officer with over 2,200 hours in the B-1B, to include more than 450 combat hours and 4 operational combat deployments.  He commanded the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Dyess AFB, where he led the operational flight test of all B-1 hardware, software, and weapons upgrades, to include the successful integration of Link-16 on the B-1, and the first ever test shot of DARPA's Long Range Anti-Ship Missile.  He was also the Deputy Division Chief of HQ/AF Long Range Plans (A8XP), and was an Air Force Operational Liaison Officer at DARPA.  He attended Naval Command and Staff College and the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.  He received his Bachelors of Science in Aerospace Engineering from North Carolina State University.

Lt Col Melissa A. Johnson is a career acquisition officer and has held multiple engineering, test, and program management assignments at various levels to include National Air Intelligence Center,  Air Force Research Laboratory, HQ Air Force, and COCOM.   In addition, Lt Col Johnson served as a Legislative Fellow under Senator Jon Kyl while he was the Minority Whip.  Lt Col Johnson has extensive experience leading classified programs.  Lt Col Johnson most recently completed her Materiel Leader position (equivalent to Squadron Command) at the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office in Washington D.C.  Lt Col Johnson graduated from the University of Florida in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering and was commissioned in 1996 at Officer Training School.  She also holds a Master's of Science in Engineering Management from University of Dayton.

Lt Col Matthew E. Lewin is a University of Illinois AFROTC DG, with a Pre-Law bachelor’s degree.  His numerous, selectively manned assignments cover both aircraft maintenance and system acquisitions.  After graduating as a DG from the AF’s maintenance officer course, Matt led B-2 maintenance ops for the initial stages of IRAQI FREEDOM.  In addition, he commanded the AF’s largest Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Davis-Monthan, supporting three diverse Wings and employing combat capes to 13 overseas locations.  Most recently, Matt was assigned to the AF Rapid Capabilities Office, leading a SECDEF directed $4B, highly sensitive joint program.  He is a graduate of ACSC and SAASS.

Lt Col Steven J. Tittel earned his commission through the University of Kansas ROTC program in 1995.  He is a Command Pilot, Weapons Officer, and operational test pilot with over 2300 hours in the F-16 and F-35.  His operational experience includes combat tours in Operations NORTHERN WATCH, SOUTHERN WATCH, and IRAQI FREEDOM. After graduating from the US Army Command and General Staff College, and School of Advanced Military Studies, Lt Col Tittel commanded the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron at Edwards AFB, California.  There, he established initial  flight operations for Air Combat Command's F-35 operational test and evaluation program.  Prior to attending Blue Horizons, Lt Col Tittel served as Chief, Strategy Division, 613th Air Operations Center, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

Major Neil B. Barnas was commissioned from AF Officer Training School in 2003.  He is a developmental engineer and acquisition manager with experience in science & technology, electronic warfare, operational test, communications, and program management.  His staff assignments include the F-35 Joint Program Office, Arlington, VA, and the AF Rapid Capabilities Office, Pentagon.  He holds a Masters of Engineering degree in Systems Engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Major James M. Davitch is a career Intelligence officer and has held Intelligence assignments at the tactical level in the combat air forces, operational level at the air operations center, and strategic level at Headquarters, U.S. Air Force. He is a 2007 graduate of the Air Force Weapons school. Upon graduation he became the Intelligence Weapons Officer for the 3 WG at Elmendorf AFB after which he was selected to return to instruct at the Weapons School. Maj Davitch was commissioned from Penn State University ROTC in 2002 with a BA in International Politics and in 2006 earned an MA in International Relations from the University of Oklahoma.

Major Brad N. Howell is a Senior Pilot with over 1,500 hours in the MQ-9, MQ-1, and F-15C. He is a Distinguished Graduate of the United States Air Force Weapons School in the MQ-9. Most recently, Major Howell was an MQ-9 instructor pilot at the USAF Weapons School. Other notable assignments include an overseas assignment to RAF Lakenheath as an F-15C pilot, over 700 combat support hours as an MQ-9 pilot at Creech AFB (including a deployment to Afghanistan), and as a Weapons Officer for the MQ-9 FTU at Holloman AFB. Major Howell was commissioned in 2003 upon graduation from the United States Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science in Management. He also holds a Masters of Operational Warfare from Air University.

Major Nicholas D. Kuc commissioned from Purdue University AFROTC with a BS degree is Math Education.  He is a Communications Officer and a graduate of the US Army's Basic Airborne Course and Sabalauski Air Assault School.  He was a 3x OIC in base comm, a flight commander in an E-3 AWACS squadron and combat comm squadron, the Chief of Communications for a Base Defense Group (Security Forces), the Director of Support at a Wing, and the DO for Communications at a Data Masked unit.  He's deployed four times to Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.  Nick also holds a Master of Education degree from the University of Oklahoma.

Major Oliver R. Lause is a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a BS in Political Science. He is an F-16 Weapons Officer, Instructor Pilot, and Evaluator Pilot with multiple assignments in both Air Combat Command and Pacific Air Forces. Prior to being a Blue Horizons Fellow, he was the USAF Weapons School's Offensive Counterair and Strategic Attack SME, running the school's largest, most advanced training scenario and briefing SECAF, COMACC, DARPA, and others on operations against near-peer adversaries. Major Lause is a senior pilot with more than 1,600 hours in the F-16, T-38, and T-37 including 200 combat hours in Operation Enduring Freedom. He has also flown alert missions in support of Operation Noble Eagle.

Major James A.  Pate earned his commission from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ROTC program in 2003 with a B.S. in Physics. He is a Senior F-15E Weapons System Officer and graduate of the USAF Test Pilot School (Class 09B), with over 1400 flight hours in 30 airframes. His combat experience includes 54 sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, and he has served as the Chief of Stan/Eval, F-15 Flight Commander, and Developmental Test and Evaluation lead aircrew (Level III certified) for the SDB-II and APG-82 AESA programs.  Before joining Blue Horizons, he worked as a Program Manager (Level III certified) and Section Chief for SOF/UAV Training Systems in the Simulators Division for Agile Combat Support, AFLCMC.

Major Michael W. Povilus is dual-hatted as both a Senior Air Battle Manager and a Regional Affairs Strategist.  He has served as an instructor ABM on three major weapons systems: E-3A, E-8C and CRC.  He deployed in support of OEF while assigned to JSTARS’ 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron.  Major Povilus is also an experienced Eurasia Foreign Area Officer. He became the Air Force's first-ever Social-Cultural Affairs Branch Chief while deployed to the Theater Security Cooperation Division in Kyrgyzstan.  He also supported the U.S. Secret Service during POTUS’ visit to Tbilisi, Georgia.  Most recently, he served as the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chief of Arms Control Implementation at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, Russia.  Major Povilus holds a B.A in Russian Studies from the University of Florida, an M.B.A. from the University of Liverpool, England, and an M.A. in East European Studies from Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.  Maj Povilus commissioned via OTS in 2003.

Major Brian A. Tileston was commissioned through OTS in 2003.  He is a senior navigator specializing in electronic warfare in the B-52 with over 1300 hours.  He has worked as a liaison through Stan/Eval and assistant flight commander at Minot.  After graduating weapons school he was in charge of Nuclear training (2 OSS) and flight commander of weapons and tactics at the 11th Bomb Squadron.  He taught at the B-52 Weapons School for 2.5 years before becoming the deputy STO chief at the 608 AOC working closely with USSATRATCOM and other COCOMs around the world.  From there he went to work as the deputy of the Weapons and Tactics section at AFGSC.

Major Shamekia N. Toliver entered the Air Force in 1994 as an enlisted Airmen and subsequently earned her commission in 2002 through the ROTC program at the University of Texas at San Antonio.  She is a Civil Engineer and holds both a BS and MS degree in Civil Engineering; along with a special experience identifier as a nationally registered Professional Engineer.  She has deployed in support of OEF and OIF on various occasions.  Key positions she has held include serving on Air Staff as a Program Manager for Operations and Maintenance Resources, Deputy Base Civil Engineer, Strategic Planner and Operations Flight Commander in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.  She also served as the lead Engineer for a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Afghanistan and as the A7 Operations Division Chief for Air Force Central Command in Qatar. Prior to her current assignment she was The Deputy Squadron Commander, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron, Osan Air Base Korea.

Major Josh C. Watkins is a C-17 Weapons Officer and Special Operations Low Level (SOLL II) Evaluator Pilot with 3000+ hours, over 750 hours combat.  He has 2 flying deployments ISO OEF/OIF/OND/HOA and a four month rotation to the CENTCOM CAOC; where he led Airdrop planning for OEF/OIF from the AMD.  He earned his Bachelor’s degree in International Business from Old Dominion University and his MBA from Trident International University.  He has served as a flight commander, squadron director of staff, Wing Evaluator Pilot, and Weapons School Instructor.  He is currently in his third year of the SOS-Instructor/ACSC IDE program.  Prior to this fellowship he was the Squadron Officer College Director of Staff.

Major Casandra M. Wolak earned her commission through the Michigan Technological University R.O.T.C. program. She began her career executing hypersonic and thermal research at the Air Force Research Laboratory, where she also served as an executive officer. Following that assignment she was a program manager and systems engineer at the mission planning program office at the Electronic Systems Center where she led an ACAT ID source selection and the development and fielding of prototype capabilities. Following USAF Test Pilot School graduation, Maj Wolak led F-22 developmental test as a Flight Test Engineer. Maj Wolak has a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Thermofluids, and an M.S. in Flight Test Engineering.