ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
A base older than the Air Force itself, Altus Air Force Base has been the premiere training base for the KC-135 Stratotanker and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft since their inception. However Altus AFB is unique for another reason; our maintenance team.
The maintenance team, better known as the “A-Team”, is considered one of the best in the Air Force.
The most recent addition on the list of achievements for the Maintenance Group belongs to the pneudraulic flight.
February 19, 2018 marked 5,000 consecutive days in a row with zero lost work time due to injuries or incidents in the shop.
“It’s 5,000 days of safety,” said Peter Chase, the 97th Maintenance Group pneudraulic flight chief. “It’s a culture these guys have. They take pride in everything they do, and especially take pride in doing things safely.”
Thirteen years of excellence in the workplace has carried on through multiple generations of workers and that pride continues to shine through in the shop.
“It’s become part of who we are and how we work,” said Chase. “You don’t even have to think about it, safety just becomes one of the things you have to do. We have to keep our guys safe in order to get the job done.”
One of those guys is Ron Roman, a hydraulic technician assigned to the 97th Maintenance Group. Roman takes pride in being part of the Air Force, but also is proud to be an “A-Team” member.
“We’re an A-Team family and the family portion of that extends out many ways,” said Roman. “Civilian, enlisted and officer; we’re all family. We’re very respected here. If they want the mission to get done, they need the civilian maintenance to get that bird in the air.”
An interesting part of a civilian workforce is that workers will have a higher retention rate than their military counterparts. For example, an Airman will be on station for only a few years but Roman has been at Altus AFB for 22 years.
“One thing civilians have is continuity,” said Chase. “You don’t have people leaving all of the time and if a person comes here, they’re typically staying for a few years. Our guys are very knowledgeable, not only in their job but they bring in knowledge from hobbies like automotive care or woodworking. The extra expertise helps keep this hangar running.”
Altus AFB provides unique opportunities for civilians. Not only is working on Altus AFB a job, it’s an invitation to join the Air Force family. With the growth of the mission on Altus, the pride of the 97th MXG is sure to grow alongside it.
“The civilian maintenance team made a name for ourselves. We’ve been through both rough spots and shiny spots,” said Roman. “But with that new KC-46 on the way, I think you’re going to see a lot more shiny spots in the future.”
The 5,000 days of safety benchmark is just a side effect of the standards put in place by both the pneudralics flight and the 97th MXG. Altus AFB relies on our dedicated civilian Airmen and the work they do to keep the mission going.