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380th EMXS AGE shop provides ground power

Airman 1st Class Sarah Derringer, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment technician, holds a tire in place while Airman 1st Class Mia Duran, 380th Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment technician, fastens the tire’s bolts Feb. 11, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

Airman 1st Class Sarah Derringer, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, holds a tire in place while Airman 1st Class Mia Duran, 380th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, fastens the tire’s bolts Feb. 11, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. Their mission is to provide safe and reliable support equipment to five separate airframes on the installation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

Airman 1st Class Mia Duran, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment technician, replaces a tire on the TLD air conditioning unit while Senior Airman Andyhoang Vu, 380th EMXS AGE technician, holds it in place, Feb. 11, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

Airman 1st Class Mia Duran, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment technician, replaces a tire on an air conditioning unit while Senior Airman Andyhoang Vu, 380th EMXS AGE technician, holds it in place, Feb. 11, 2019, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. Their day-to-day mission is to maintain all of the equipment here and on the flight line to make sure it’s mission ready whenever the aircraft needs it. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady)

AL DHAFRA AIR BASE, United Arab Emirates (AFNS) -- The 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Group Aerospace Ground Equipment shop is responsible for 84 different types of support equipment, totaling 313 pieces in all at Al Dhafra Air Base.

Their mission is to provide safe and reliable support equipment to five separate airframes on the installation.

“Our day-to-day mission is to maintain all of the equipment here and on our flight line to make sure it’s mission ready whenever the aircraft needs it,” said Staff Sgt. Evan Rose, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron AGE craftsman. “We do inspections, and when something comes in for maintenance, we fix it and get it back out to the line. We also deliver AGE to the aircraft, back shops and anyone who needs it.”

To work as an AGE technician it’s required you to know how to fix various pieces of equipment, also known as being a “jack-of-all-trades.”

“Being a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ means that we are trained on maintaining equipment used to sustain the flight line,” said Tech. Sgt. Eric Stuart, 380th EMXS. “We support equipment that provides heating and cooling, and we also deal with hydraulic and electrical systems. Not to mention we have unique units—such as our bomb lifts—that literally do what the name implies, lifting bombs onto airplanes.”

“My favorite part is fixing what’s broken,” said Airman 1st Class Quentin Kern, 380th EMXS AGE technician. “Having to solve problems and troubleshoot is like a puzzle, something I have to go piece by piece to figure out what is wrong and how it went wrong. Every day, I get a different problem that I get to try to solve and it’s really satisfying when you find that missing puzzle piece and put it all together.”

Without support equipment, the flight line grinds to a halt, hence their motto: “No air power without ground power.”

“Maintenance on our equipment is critical because these are live missions and the jets can’t take off without any of our equipment,” said Kern. “They need our electric, hydraulics and more, which comes from the equipment we service.”

Their Airmen accomplish different challenges each day while learning from each other’s experiences.

“Being an AGE troop comes with accepting that no two days are ever the same and to expect the unexpected,” said Stuart. “We might all be AGE, but some folks will spend their entire career having never worked on a certain piece of equipment. It is also not uncommon for a seasoned master sergeant to approach an airman first class with questions regarding a specific unit and thus counting on our junior enlisted to keep the planes in the sky.”

“At my home station they don’t have the air conditioning cart but here I get to work on it,” said Rose. “Different bases have their own special equipment, so by working on other equipment and with people from different bases who bring their knowledge to the task, I learn from all ranks and in this job you learn something every day. I can say that is my favorite part of the job.”

By facing these challenges together this team continues to grow stronger and provide the best support to Al Dhafra AB’s mission.

“Out of the three times I’ve been here this has been my most enjoyable experience,” Stuart said. “The crew I’ve got working with me is outstanding and our leadership has provided us with all the tools necessary and a very hands-off approach in trusting us to do our job well, which gives our guys lots of confidence. We have a lot of fun in the 380th EMXS!”

“Even as an airman first class, I feel crucial to the mission at (Al Dhafra AB) because somebody has to get the maintenance going to get this equipment in operational condition,” said Kern. “Even our lowest-ranking Airmen have a huge role in the amount of maintenance we perform.”

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