Your work is more than just a job

  • Published
  • By Mr. Jim Kelly
  • Director, 97th Maintenance Directorate
At the Air Education and Training Command Symposium we had the opportunity to hear the Secretary of the Air Force, Mr. Mike Donley, speak about the team work involved to launch and fly a two-ship, F-16 Fighting Falcon formation in Afghanistan in support of combat operations. From the pilots, maintenance personnel, munitions, life support and administrative support, everyone had to do their part to make this mission successful.

The same thought process helps explain our operations here. Everyone must do their part for our mission to be successful. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Our mission is "Forging Combat Mobility Forces...Deploying Airman Warriors." We all should understand our part in turning our mission statement into action. Although the remainder of this article will discuss the relationship to aircraft maintenance, the same thought process works for every area in the 97th Air Mobility Wing.

At this moment, there are C-17 aircraft crews delivering critical personnel and supplies into Afghanistan and Iraq. At the same time, they are medically evacuating our most critically injured Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen. KC-135 aircrews are extending the range of bombers, fighters, and mobility aircraft so we can successfully complete our nation's vital missions. In addition, we are the only nation that has the capability to provide immediate, large-scale humanitarian relief such as that provided to Haiti last year. Those aircrews received their mobility flying training at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., and we all had and continue to have a part in making this happen.

The obvious contributors are the flightline mechanics who service, launch and recover our aircraft. However, there is so much more that must happen before we can successfully launch an aircraft. Our flightline mechanics, along with maintenance specialists continually perform required repairs that are unscheduled. Our scheduled maintenance, along with our specialists and corrosion control professionals, serve the long-term health of the fleet with their expert inspections and repairs. We continually change tires put together by the wheel and tire shop due to the high number of landings in the training environment. The fuel systems repair flight continually repairs leaks that would otherwise keep our aircraft from flying.

Our tool personnel maintain and provide the tools needed for our mechanics to complete their jobs, while the precision measurement equipment laboratory ensures our tools and test equipment are precisely calibrated and maintained. Supply makes sure we get the parts needed to repair and maintain our aircraft. They get them from worldwide sources. Our technical order people ensure we have up-to-date technical manuals and functioning computers so we can access the correct data to conduct repairs safely. The training office ensures our mechanics are qualified to conduct the required work. Maintenance operations manages our fleet through tracking and scheduling flying, and upcoming modifications and inspections. Quality assurance makes sure we meet the highest standards in providing safe and reliable aircraft for our aircrews to fly.

Administratively, we fill our vacant positions faster than most, ensure our people are properly paid, and support their documentation requirements. We also provide and maintain our vehicles and flightline support equipment so vital for us to successfully do our jobs.

Along with our safety office, we have fostered a culture that allows our employees to continually improve how we can do our jobs safer. Environmentally, we are the largest organization to use hazardous materials on base. We make sure we handle these chemicals and materials safely and do not harm our precious environment.

We all have a part in the success of our wing's mission, "Forging Combat Mobility Forces...Deploying Airman Warriors." If any of us don't do our jobs, it negatively affects our mission's outcome. What we do is more than just a job. We train our nation's aircrews for the security of the United States of America and the world's humanitarian needs. If someone asks you what you do, you don't just fix airplanes - you provide safe, reliable aircraft in the numbers required to train mobility aircrews needed to carry out our nation's national security interests.