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AETC recognizes two Altus maintainers for superior performance

two people hold an award together

U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Leard, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander, presents the 2019 Air Education and Training Command Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award for the Civilian Manager category to, John Hatchell, the fabrication flight chief assigned to the 97th Maintenance Squadron, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, July 15, 2020. Hatchell’s job includes daily coordination of aircraft maintenance data and activities that directly affect the flying mission here at Altus AFB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

man holds award infront of aircraft

John Hatchell, the fabrication flight chief assigned to the 97th Maintenance Squadron, stands in front of a C-17 Globemaster III while posing with the 2019 Air Education and Training Command Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award for the Civilian Manager category at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, July 15, 2020. Hatchell leads a team of technicians that support the flying mission while also coordinating all the base’s metal fabrication needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

award is held by hands

John Hatchell, 97th Maintenance Squadron fabrication flight chief, holds the 2019 Air Education and Training Command Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Awards for the Civilian Manager categories, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, July 15, 2020. The Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award is an Air Force-level award that recognizes base-level military and civil service aircraft, munitions, and missile maintenance personnel who have demonstrated the highest degree of sustained job performance, job knowledge, job efficiency and results. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

two people hold award

U.S. Air Force Col. Matthew Leard, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander, presents the 2019 Air Education and Training Command Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award for the Civilian Technician category to Blake Pewo, a KC-46 Pegasus flight line expeditor assigned to the 97th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, July 15, 2020. Pewo’s primary duties include managing the KC-46 dayshift workforce and assigning each aircraft the right amount of employees and resources to complete each maintenance operation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

Man holds award infront of plane

Blake Pewo, a KC-46 Pegasus flight line expeditor assigned to the 97th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, stands in front of a KC-46 Pegasus holding the 2019 Air Education and Training Command Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award for the Civilian Technician category, at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, July 15, 2020. The workforce Pewo manages provides optimal flying aircraft to accomplish the base’s training and operational needs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

Two members of the 97th Maintenance Group at Altus Air Force Base were recently awarded the 2019 Air Education and Training Command Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award for the Civilian Manager and Technician categories.

The Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award is an Air Force-level recognition that highlights base-level military and civil service aircraft, munitions, and missile maintenance personnel who demonstrate the highest degree of sustained job performance, job knowledge, job efficiency, and results.

The winner in the Civilian Technician category is Blake Pewo, a KC-46 Pegasus flight line expeditor assigned to the 97th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The winner of the Civilian Manager category is John Hatchell, 97th Maintenance Squadron the fabrication flight chief.

“The work accomplished by the maintainers here at Altus is second to none,” said Raymond Brzozowski, 97th AMXS director. “I don’t just say that because I work in the AMXS, but because we hear it from our customers all the time. Our maintenance practices are constantly praised by officer and enlisted aircrew members who have flown jets from other bases and have first-hand knowledge of the high-quality maintenance they receive here.”

Pewo’s primary duties include managing the KC-46 dayshift workforce by assigning each aircraft the right amount of employees and resources to complete each maintenance operation.

“I enjoy getting to work with the greatest and most talented aircraft maintainers in the world,” said Pewo. “The camaraderie, along with our collective experiences, skills, and abilities, is unprecedented across the Air Force. That’s what makes coming to work every day so much fun. What we amiably provide to our flight crews daily is the best flying aircraft available to achieve the best flight training mission each student needs from Altus AFB.”

Hatchell is tasked with the daily coordination of aircraft maintenance data and activities that directly affect the flying mission here.

“Altus AFB hosts aircraft in three different airframes,” said Hatchell. “The fabrication flight technicians are vital to the flying mission and all these facets of fabrication are directed through (me),” said Hatchell.

Hatchell went on to say that he enjoys being a part of the “Big Picture” in everything the fabrication flight repairs, creates, paints, welds, and produces to keep the Air Force in a mission capable manor at all times. His flight supports Aerospace Ground Equipment from corrosion prevention, label stenciling, non-powered item maintenance and repairing defective equipment. Every aircraft wheel has paint removal and repainting after inspection. They also employ their members to remove and replace fasteners and components daily. Members of the flight also control corrosion by regular aircraft washing.

According to Brzozowski, high-quality maintenance performance is critical because of the base’s aircrew training mission.

“Leadership in the Maintenance Group knows the difficult job maintainers have,” he said. “Our leadership learned a long time ago the way to improve an organization is not by reaching up for help but rather by reaching back and pulling the less experienced technicians along. If we continue to train, equip, and set high standards, we’ll continue to win awards for a long time to come.”