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Sortie support team delivers decisive air power

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Louis Vega Jr.
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
We often think about all the aircraft involved in delivering cargo, bombs and personnel on the battlefield. The people behind the scenes are often forgotten. These Airmen are responsible for making sure the tools and equipment needed to repair aircraft are accessible and working properly.

The 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Sortie Support Flight is made up of four flightline occupations, or Air Force specialty codes, that contribute to Operation Inherent Resolve. The team issues, maintains and inspects required repair tools and support equipment needed to deliver decisive airpower throughout the area of responsibility.

“We are accountable for about 10,000 items in our composite tool kits,” said Tech. Sgt. Markesha Crosby, 386th EMXS sortie support flight chief. “When we issue tools and when they bring them back, we have to inspect every single item in the CTK. If something is missing we have to be able to say where it’s at, who has it, or why it’s not there.”

Inspections of CTKs are required and performed by the sortie support team every 180, 90 or 60 days, depending on what interval is required. Inspection intervals are put in place to help monitor the items more effectively.

The AFSCs assigned to the flight of approximately 13 personnel are nondestructive inspections, aircraft electrical and environmental systems, aircraft fuel systems, and crew chiefs.

“We are a diverse team here at sortie support,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Galarza, 386th EMXS nondestructive inspection technician. “I have learned a little about the other occupations involved since I’ve been here.”

The nondestructive inspection technician operates, maintains and inspects nondestructive equipment for cracks. They also perform operator maintenance and service inspections on shop equipment and tools as well as handle and dispose of hazardous waste and materials.
Crew chiefs are tactical aircraft maintainers who coordinate the aircraft's care and call in the specialists when they find a problem. In other words, if the jet were a patient in a hospital, the crew chief would be his primary doctor, coordinating with specialists in radiology, psychology, and so on.

“My favorite part of the mission is being able to work around the different air frames along with interacting with our many allied nations here,” said Staff Sgt. Luke Worley, 386th EMXS aircraft fuel systems repair craftsman. “Deploying or going to a new base in general really puts into perspective how big and well-oiled of a machine the Air Force is.”

The aircraft fuel systems technician is responsible for inspecting, repairing, and testing aircraft hydraulic and in-flight refueling systems. They also inspect fuel cells and tanks for foreign objects, corrosion, cell deterioration and fungus, and dispose of hazardous waste and materials.

As well as being the flight chief, Crosby is the electrical and environmental systems technician. She inspects, troubleshoots, and maintains electrical and environmental systems. She also performs cryogenic maintenance on mobile aircraft servicing units.

The sortie support expeditionary mission differs a little from missions at home station.

“Typically, CTK responsibilities would be a part of an internal section or aircraft maintenance unit,” Crosby said. “Here, we are a separate squadron altogether.”