Mission-ready Airman course graduates 11,000 strong

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cory Gossett
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 372nd Training Squadron’s Detachment 12 graduated its 11,000th mission-ready Airman, or MRA, here recently.

With their training complete at Luke Air Force Base, the newly-graduated crew chiefs will be able to use their specialized skills at their first permanent assignment.

"Every F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief since 1994 has completed this program prior to going to their first duty station," said Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Garcia, the 372nd TRS, Detachment 12 chief. "Luke Air Force Base is the only base that teaches this course."

The program's goal is to train the world's greatest F-16 maintainers. Small class sizes ensure each student receives proper attention and training. With the transfer of F-16s to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, the 11,000th graduate at Luke AFB is an important milestone for the program.

"This is one of the last training milestones we will have at Luke (AFB)," Garcia said. "With the program transferring to Holloman (AFB), it means the 12,000th graduate will happen there."

The MRA program is the final stage of training for F-16 crew chiefs. Their training begins at Sheppard AFB, Texas, with mostly classroom-based learning. While there, Airmen work on non-operational aircraft during "cold training." Upon arrival at Luke AFB, they transition to "hot training," getting hands-on training for an additional four weeks working with operational aircraft.

"The MRA program teaches Airmen F-16 launch, recovery, engine oil servicing, preflight and post-flight inspections," said Master Sgt. Paul Engram, a 372nd TRS training instructor. "The other phases of training at Sheppard (AFB) teach them a lot of systems knowledge and hands-on inspections, but not on operational aircraft."

With many F-16 aircraft being transferred to Holloman AFB, the final stage of MRA is scheduled to transfer in November 2015.

For previous and current MRA students, the memories and friends they've met during their time at Luke AFB will never change.

"One of the most memorable moments for the students is their first aircraft launch," Garcia said. "They are really excited to complete it, and it always leaves them smiling."

Engram said 10 percent of MRA students get stationed at Luke AFB on their first permanent assignment, but with the aircraft being transferred to New Mexico, it's likely the number will be split between the two stations.

The MRA is an important program and has been a part Luke AFB's rich history for more than 20 years.

"When it moves to Holloman (AFB) it will continue the legacy started at Luke (AFB) of training the world's greatest F-16 maintainers," Garcia said.