Dragons: 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

A mural of red dragon that represents the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The 509th AMXS Airmen deliver maximum combat readiness while maintaining a deployable combat force capable of projecting B-2 Spirit global firepower at a moments notice, anytime and anywhere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

A mural of red dragon that represents the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The 509th AMXS Airmen deliver maximum combat readiness while maintaining a deployable combat force capable of projecting B-2 Spirit global firepower at a moments notice, anytime and anywhere. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

A B-2 Spirit prepped and ready for a mission at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron consists of approximately 570 personnel tasked with maintaining $15 million worth of equipment and their daily excellence ensures the mission capability of the B-2s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

A B-2 Spirit prepped and ready for a mission at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron consists of approximately 570 personnel tasked with maintaining $15 million worth of equipment and their daily excellence ensures the mission capability of the B-2s. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel Meehan, a composite tool kit technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, helps a crew chief check out maintenance tools at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. In the supply building, the technicians control more than $15 million worth of equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Daniel Meehan, a composite tool kit technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, helps a crew chief check out maintenance tools at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. In the supply building, the technicians control more than $15 million worth of equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Stephen Jones, a composite tool kit technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, inspects a took before check out in one of the supply buildings at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. Each tool must have the correct labels and be free of discrepancies before being issuing out to a crew chief for maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Stephen Jones, a composite tool kit technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, inspects a took before check out in one of the supply buildings at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. Each tool must have the correct labels and be free of discrepancies before being issuing out to a crew chief for maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Stephen Jones, a composite tool kit technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, inspects a took before check out in one of the supply buildings at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. Each tool must have the correct labels and be free of discrepancies before being issuing out to a crew chief for maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Stephen Jones, a composite tool kit technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, inspects a took before check out in one of the supply buildings at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. Each tool must have the correct labels and be free of discrepancies before being issuing out to a crew chief for maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jovan Banks)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cody Evans, a composite tool kit technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, fixes communication equipment at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The members of the 509th AMXS are responsible for day-to-day maintenance of the B-2 Spirit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cody Evans, a composite tool kit technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, fixes communication equipment at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The members of the 509th AMXS are responsible for day-to-day maintenance of the B-2 Spirit. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Randell White, a mobility support technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, places a piece of equipment in the Epilog Laser Fusion M2 to be engraved with a label at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The Fusion M2 model is a dual-source laser system that allows the Airmen to perform both metal marking applications and CO2 laser applications from the same system, in the same job. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Randell White, a mobility support technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, places a piece of equipment in the Epilog Laser Fusion M2 to be engraved with a label at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The Fusion M2 model is a dual-source laser system that allows the Airmen to perform both metal marking applications and CO2 laser applications from the same system, in the same job. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Randell White, a mobility support technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, displays a freshly labeled piece of equipment at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The AMXS uses a Epilog Laser Fusion M2 machine to create perminate and legibal labels for equpiment used for B-2 Spirits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Randell White, a mobility support technician assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, displays a freshly labeled piece of equipment at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The AMXS uses a Epilog Laser Fusion M2 machine to create perminate and legibal labels for equpiment used for B-2 Spirits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

Coveralls hang ready to be checked out by crew chiefs stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The white coveralls are used to help protect the Airmen from the different chemicals they use while performing maintenance on B-2 Spirits (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

Coveralls hang ready to be checked out by crew chiefs stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The white coveralls are used to help protect the Airmen from the different chemicals they use while performing maintenance on B-2 Spirits (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

Members of the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, wear special gear while washing B-2 Spirits at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The cleaning chemicals are stronger than the typical soaps used to wash equipment so the green suits, black rubber gloves and goggles protect the Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)
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Members of the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, wear special gear while washing B-2 Spirits at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. The cleaning chemicals are stronger than the typical soaps used to wash equipment so the green suits, black rubber gloves and goggles protect the Airmen. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

Crew chiefs assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron finish wiping down the inside of a panel of a B-2 Spirit during a wash at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. Each square inch of the B-2 is carefully inspected while a wash is being conducted to ensure the aircraft is mission ready once it is completely cleaned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)
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Crew chiefs assigned to the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron finish wiping down the inside of a panel of a B-2 Spirit during a wash at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. Each square inch of the B-2 is carefully inspected while a wash is being conducted to ensure the aircraft is mission ready once it is completely cleaned. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

A 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief sprays water on the landing gear of a B-2 Spirit during a wash at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. It takes about three days and 10 Airmen to complete a thorough wash of one B-2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)
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A 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief sprays water on the landing gear of a B-2 Spirit during a wash at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., April 10, 2018. It takes about three days and 10 Airmen to complete a thorough wash of one B-2. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Danielle Quilla)

509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (U.S. Air Force graphic)
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509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (U.S. Air Force graphic)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Dragons … death from above!! Is the over-powering cry you hear when a member of the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s name is announced at any wing function. Why are we so loud and proud? I’m glad you asked.

Our unit patch has rich heritage and lineage. Our maintainers have been supporting the “air breathing” strategic mission in some form or fashion since 1945. The left facing arrow, harkens back to the 509th Composite Group’s tail flash and motto, which was “Follow Us, Follow Us as we usher in the Nuclear Age.”

The blue background represents the sky the B-2 Spirit seemingly glides through after we pour hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears, culminating with a thumbs up and salute to those flying it. The yellow and red shield equally divided, shows how the squadron’s flights are aligned to support the combat coded squadrons.

Originally, those squadrons were the 393d Bomb Squadron (gold) and the 325th Bomb Squadron (red). Around 2005, the 325th moved over as the Weapons School Squadron, and the “Devil’s Own” 13th replaced it. The crossed bombs and wrenches, is an over-simplification of our actual mission; generate world-wide combat capability by planning and executing all aspects of on-aircraft maintenance, weapons loading, launch and recovery for the Air Force’s premier bomber.

Lastly, the words “keepers of the spirit” make up the bottom portion of the patch. The official definition of a keeper is a person who manages or looks after something or someone.

Our definition is a bit different. We look after the aircraft, tending to its “care and feeding” at all hours of the day or night, no matter the weather. Ensuring every bomb loaded is ready to make its mark on whatever our target is. Verifying every system is working as it should, and seamlessly integrated with every other system to, at the command of the aircrew, barrel down the runway and fly off to conduct its mission. Those pilots are our responsibility as well, and according to the old flying adage, takeoffs are optional, landings are not, we are ultimately responsible for all maintenance actions on every aircraft that flies.

After we have one last look over the aircraft we sign our names in the aircraft forms saying the maintenance performed on this aircraft is in accordance with technical data, and it is a safe, reliable aircraft, ready for flight. Even then our job is not done. We wait for the aircraft to return, we look over it again, get it ready for another mission, should it be called to, and after that, we finally take a rest. That is our definition of keepers of the spirit.

So why Dragons? I have looked and I can’t find the why, but this is what I like to think. According to folklore, Dragons fly and breathe fire. If they fly at night no one knows they are there until they torch you with fire. How do we employ the B-2? Usually at night, and you won’t know we’re there until after the night sky lights up with our fire, and the men and women of the 509th AMXS stand ready to make that happen, day or night, rain or shine to rain death from above!