Impact of today's mechanic
By 1st Lt. Alana Piccone and Tech. Sgt. Thomas Dunlap, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
/ Published July 08, 2016
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- As service members we are often asked the common question, "What do you do?" More often than not, the answer from 509th Aircraft Maintainers is simply, "I'm a mechanic." However, maintainers tend to lose sight of the power, effect and impact their daily "mechanic" jobs have on the base, the Air Force and the world as a whole. For maintainers of the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS), it seems to be the same grind each and every day: launching jets for training mission after training mission or executing one exercise after the other. But I encourage every maintainer to take a step back and ask the question, "What do I really do?"
The Aircraft Maintenance Squadron differs from other units throughout the Air Force in many ways. The 509th AMXS supports multiple missions at both the tactical and strategic levels to include strategic deterrence, global strike, and combat support. The squadron, as a whole, has 506 members and represents 18 different Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSC). All of these AFSCs directly support the maintenance production for 20 B-2 stealth bombers and their mission. As maintaines our lives are on the flightline, 24 hours a day, to include support on most weekends.
Our crew chiefs, specialists, and weapon teams are our hands-on maintainers. Crew chiefs assure quality maintenance by confirming accuracy of aircraft records as well as inspecting, troubleshooting, removing and installing all aircraft system components when need be. Specialist technicians include communication & navigation, instrument flight controls, electronic warfare, jets, hydraulics, and electrical environmental. These maintainers have specialized training in their individual fields to troubleshoot, isolate, and repair mission specific systems. Our weapon load teams consist of four qualified technicians who inspect, load and repair both nuclear and conventional weapons systems. Behind these maintainers are our support technicians who provide the necessary tools and technical data to get the job done. Additionally, these maintainers are supported by a commander's support staff that is responsible for all administrative aspects to include certifying and enabling proper clearances, training, mobility, and other administrative functions in order to guarantee our maintainers are ready to work and deploy at a moment's notice. Together, under the guidance and direction of highly trained Senior NCO's, this team produces a lethal capability unlike any other in the world.
The B-2 bomber is a vital piece of the large Department of Defense puzzle; however, without the men and women of the 509th AMXS the B-2 would not be able to provide safe and reliable aircraft for six flying squadrons enabling both nuclear and conventional readiness, along with critical test and training missions. The squadron has a proven record of excellence to include winning the the Best Bomber Nuclear Load Team as well as the Best Bomber Nuclear Aircraft Crew Chief Team during the 2015 Global Strike Challenge. Not to mention, AMXS is a crucial part of the reason the 509th Bomb Wing has captured the Fairchild Trophy two years in a row. So next time you ask a maintainer what they do, remember, they're not just mechanic. They are the machine- the machine that enables the B-2 mission to be one of the most important missions in the United States Air Force.