Maintenance Airmen encompass Forward, Ready, Now

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
With a designated flightline office space, the self-proclaimed "quiet professionals" from the 31st Fighter Wing are continuing to support the 555th Fighter Squadron, both of Aviano Air Base, Italy, during their participation in an international training mission hosted by the Polish air force here.

The offsite training and movement of 31st Fighter Wing resources emulates the recently adapted "Forward, Ready, Now" initiative by Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, U.S. Air Forces in Africa commander. Gorenc recently visited Aviano to endorse the new campaign.

"Arriving that first night in Poland showed me firsthand what Gen. Gorenc was talking about during his short visit to Aviano just two weeks ago," said Master Sgt. Edward McLanahan, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Unit operations manager. "We flew in a group of F-16s from Aviano; C-130s from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, brought Airmen and equipment; and a small group of folks from the AvDet team assigned to Spangdahalem helped us bed down. This is why we have Airmen stationed in Europe, because you couldn't do this as well as we did, as efficiently as we did, if you didn't already have boots on the ground and Airmen immersed in the local culture."

Throughout the past week, maintainers from the 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 555th AMU and various other maintenance flights have worked together to maintain and repair 12 F-16 Fighting Falcons involved with numerous training sorties.

"We made sure we were all ready, had all of our equipment and people together and got everyone here in an extremely quick fashion," said Tech. Sgt. Steven Bohler, 31st AMXS, 555th AMU aerospace propulsion craftsman. "Now we're ensuring jets fly and that the mission is completed."

Crew chiefs on the ground are in the business of proactive maintenance before the jet takes off and they fix any problems it's having when they recover the jets at the end of the run.

"If we aren't here to do our job, the jets aren't going anywhere," said Airman 1st Class Zacahry Machuca, 31st AMXS, 555th AMU crew chief. "We do pre-flight checks before takeoff and if the jet comes back broken -- such as hydraulic problems, engine malfunctions -- we're going to fix that to make sure the mission is completed."

Just as equally important is the assurance of safety and welfare for the Air Force's most valuable asset -- it's Airmen, said Master Sgt. Jonathon Hayden, 31st AMXS, 555th AMU productions assistant.

"Our maintenance is incredibly important because lives are on the line here," said Hayden. "Anytime we have a pilot strap themselves into one of our F-16s, we want them to be 100 percent confident that they're going to have a safe, reliable aircraft and return safely home to their families."

The maintainers assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing will continue to launch and recover jets at Łask over the next few weeks to ensure the training mission here is a success.