Reserve, active duty seamlessly maintain aircraft

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Ben Gonzales
  • Air Force Print News
At first glance, one cannot tell a difference between the two. A more in-depth analysis finds the two dress alike, have the same training and work side by side, capable of doing any task just as well as the other.

It is only with a keen eye that one can find a variation in the two -- the patches on the battle dress uniform are different with one person wearing an active-duty 437th Airlift Wing patch and the other wearing a patch of the Reserve's 315th AW.

Other than the shields sewn on their uniforms, these two are interchangeable and seamlessly work together to keep Charleston AFB's C-17 Globemaster IIIs mission capable.

"We are all the same," said Senior Airman Timothy Solly, a communications and navigation system journeyman with the 315th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron of the Reserve wing here. "The only difference is the patch on the uniform.

"I volunteered to be out here," said the Atlanta native who has been activated for six months and mainly works on radios, satellite uplink equipment, and the global position system for any C-17. "There is good camaraderie with the active duty and we all get along." 

With approximately 90 reservists activated throughout the base, a majority of these citizen Airmen are assigned to the active-duty 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here. Most days one can find Reserve members on annual tours stepping into the ranks right along active members without anyone even noticing the difference. 

"We blend right in like one big family," said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Bryant, a 26-year reservist. The C-17 crew chief from the 315th AMXS added, "We are all trained to do a job and we do it." 

And just like his active-duty counterparts, Sergeant Bryant has deployed in support of the war on terrorism. His latest deployment was for 120 days from May to September 2005 in Afghanistan. When Sergeant Bryant is not wearing his uniform, he works for the Charleston County School District maintenance section. 

Charleston AFB is home to 53 C-17s, with normally more than half deployed around the world on any given day. To keep the aircraft mission ready, maintainers work around the clock every day of the year and around the globe making sure the cargo plane is ready. 

"I don't see how we can do our job without the Reserve. Not just because of the numbers they provide to the squadron, but also because of their expertise and skills they offer," said Staff Sgt. Sarah Hall, an aerospace maintenance craftsman with the 437th AMXS who has been on active duty since October 2001. 

"At our roll call at shift change, we have civilians, active and reservists side by side, but no one is singled out based on his affiliation," Sergeant Hall said. "We get our jobs based on our skills and what is happening on the flightline for launches. Most of my training has been from Reserve Airmen." 

Staff Sgt. Chris Brown attributed the unnoticed difference in maintainers' abilities to training. 

"My very first night of work at Charleston as an active-duty Airman, I was trained by a reservist," said the 315th AMXS C-17 crew chief. "He taught me not to short-change the plane and to take pride in what I do because the C-17 crews' lives are in my hands. 

"We work the same hours, have the same discipline, and we deploy the same amount of time," said the reservist, who was on active duty from 1999 to 2005 and has been deployed around the world. "The mission doesn't change. It is a seamless mesh of active and Reserve maintainers. We go out there and do the job and keep the C-17 ready to deliver freedom around the world."