Munitions Airmen build bombs at record pace
By Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
/ Published December 18, 2015
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AFNS) -- The 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Munitions Flight at Al Udeid Air Base is setting a new record with each bomb they build.
The team of nearly 60 Airmen has assembled almost 4,000 bombs since July, surpassing the previous record by more than 1,600.
The weapons that the unit provides are in high demand. More than 3,700 weapons they built have been dropped on enemy targets since July.
Senior Master Sgt. Gordon Comerford, the 379th EMXS Munitions Flight production superintendent, said he’s proud of how committed his team has been over the past several months.
“I’m incredibly proud of what we contribute to the battlefield,” said Comerford, of Chatsworth, Georgia. “We generally build 24 joint direct attack munitions per day but have cranked out as many as 66 during high demand times. Demand really spiked in October when our technicians built 1,058 JDAMs.
“I cannot think of anyone, anywhere at any time who can make that claim,” Comerford continued. “I am incredibly proud of my Airmen for sustaining production at that level for such a long duration.”
The munitions fight maintains a weapons stockpile valued at $2 billion. The flight provides weapons for the B-1B Lancer and chaff and flares for the C-17 Globemaster III and C-130 Hercules. Every weapon is meticulously built by hand and every component is inspected prior to any construction.
“I inspect every single component to create a weapon and make sure everything is good to go before any bomb building begins,” said Senior Airman Anthony Anderson, a 379th EMXS munitions inspector from Waco, Texas.
In a matter of minutes, Anderson inspects nearly 100 different weapon components including tail kits and fuses. He said he likes supporting such an important mission.
“We’re making a direct impact here and that’s something that only a few career fields in the Air Force get to experience,” Anderson said. “We pour our sweat into these bombs and 12 hours later we see it on TV, knowing we’re having that impact is a great feeling.
“I got here right after the battle for Kobani, seeing the Kurds push forward, reducing (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) territory, preventing them from expanding and supporting the Iraqi people as they take back cities,” Anderson continued. “It’s good to know that we’re supporting all of that.”
Anderson’s teammates agreed.
“We are making a huge difference and that’s a great feeling,” said Senior Airman Justin Moyle, a 379th EMXS conventional maintenance crew chief from Mayfield, Pennsylvania. “You don’t hear much about us and what we do, but without us, today’s warfare wouldn’t be possible. We know what we’re doing and we do it to protect our fellow service members and to keep America safe.”
Moyle oversees bomb building operations and said the greatest part of the job is knowing the bombs his team builds are used to stop enemy forces.
“We’re taking out enemy resources and having an impact on them financially and on their morale,” he said.
Many in the unit believe strongly in what they’re doing. More than a dozen Airmen, roughly a quarter of the team, volunteered to extend their deployments by six months.
For Staff Sgt. Jody Kemper, a 379th EMXS munitions maintenance crew chief from Vilonia, Arkansas, the decision was easy.
“I like building live munitions that will be used and have a prominent effect on what’s going on in the world,” Kemper said. “We are supporting the men on the ground, taking out enemy targets and preventing the enemy from having an attack capability; I like knowing I have a hand in that.”