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Creech Airman resurrects AGE equipment, saves AF thousands

Tech Sgt. Kasey Hollinger, a 432nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment craftsman, stands next to a self-generating nitrogen cart May 19, 2015, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The self-generating nitrogen cart is used to separate the nitrogen from the oxygen in the air and compresses it to be used to inflate AGE equipment and aircraft tires. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Adarius Petty)

Tech Sgt. Kasey Hollinger, a 432nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment craftsman, stands next to a self-generating nitrogen cart May 19, 2015, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The self-generating nitrogen cart is used to separate the nitrogen from the oxygen in the air and compresses it to be used to inflate AGE equipment and aircraft tires. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Adarius Petty)

CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada (AFNS) -- Since fiscal year 2013, the Air Force has faced the long-term effects of sequestration, resulting in the reduction of manning needed to complete the mission while working with a tighter budget.

With the phrase "do more with less" in the forefront of the minds of today's Airmen, the obligation to save money is still a top priority.

For Tech. Sgt. Kasey Hollinger, a 432nd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment craftsman, it was this priority that inspired him to try and complete the mission while saving the Air Force nearly $100,000 -- starting with his own duty section first.

"Due to an upcoming mobility tasking, I was assigned to fix a nitrogen cart," Hollinger said. "My leadership felt I was best suited for the job."

The self-generating nitrogen cart is used to separate nitrogen from the oxygen in the air and compresses it to be used to inflate age equipment and aircraft tires.

"This cart was a sole asset; it was one out of three nitrogen carts on base but the other two are down range supporting combat operations," said Master Sgt. Michael Chance, the 432nd MXS assistant maintenance flight chief.

The AGE shop is authorized manning for nearly 40 people, but within the last few months the already undermanned unit has lost an additional seven Airmen, primarily to retirements and separations.

Currently, 20 individuals are responsible for more than 761 pieces of equipment that support MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircrafts, for both home station and deployed commitments.

"Hollinger was the most experienced and the nitrogen cart had to be fixed as soon as possible,” Chance said.

The nitrogen cart had numerous problems and had also missed scheduled maintenance while it wasn't used for the four year period it had been out of commission.

"The cart had multiple maintenance write ups, the system coolant pump and programmable logic controller were shorted and the actual hose reel where the nitrogen comes out was bad," Hollinger said.

Prepping himself for the ultimate test in AGE maintenance, Hollinger sized up his opponent. Before he began his task, he contemplated the cost of replacing the cart with a new one.

It would cost the Air Force $90,000 to replace the broken unit, however, with some time and ingenuity Hollinger was able to fix it for just under $11,000.

"It took me a total of 48 duty hours to complete the tasking," Hollinger said.

Despite the challenges that come with being undermanned, Hollinger and other AGE maintainers have several accomplishments to be proud of, including surpassing and sustaining an above average Air Combat Command passing rate on inspection.

He attributes a portion of his success to having a small shop of Airmen with infectiously positive attitudes that have helped build strong camaraderie within his unit.

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