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Through Airmen's Eyes: Unconventional repairs

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

While on a deployment, everyone on base comes to realize how important every other job is because you can't do your job without the other shops doing theirs.

Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Wright, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance low bay NCO in-charge, had an under-appreciated job that became much more appreciated while he was deployed to Afghanistan from June 2011 through March 2012.

Wright had many jobs during his deployment. He was one of three mechanics responsible for a fleet of 58 vehicles, and he was in charge of training and licensing all members of the team, both Army and Air Force, to operate vehicles on the base. He also managed the Army's vehicle tracking system.

Wright's mission while deployed was similar to the one he has here at Whiteman, just with more intensity and constant threats from opposing forces.

"We had to keep the fleet up and rolling, providing the maximum amount of protection capable for the members leaving on outside the wire missions," Wright said. "I also provided security on many missions I went on, helping to ensure the safety of whoever was conducting the mission at the time, which is something I would never do while at Whiteman."

Every day was unique for Wright as his day-to-day duties were constantly changing. "If we had a morning mission we would be at work earlier getting our briefs," Wright said. "Otherwise we would head in and begin working on vehicles. We also conducted foot patrol from base to base providing security for key individuals."

One of the biggest difficulties Wright and his team had to face was the availability of parts. "A lot of the repairs we had to do were unconventional, or we would have to steal the parts off a vehicle that was hard broke," Wright said. "It was very difficult to receive the parts we needed out there."

According to Wright, while this was the best deployments he's been on, the fifth such deployment during his 12-year career, the one thing he missed the most was spending time with his children.

However, the friends he made on this deployment became part of his extended family.

"The best part of this deployment was the family," Wright added. "We spent a year together between training and deployment, and everyone became very close. I knew no matter what was going on, I had friends that were going to watch my back."
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