From the Frontlines: Senior Airman Shawn Watters

  • Published
  • By Heidi Hunt
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The anatomy of an aircraft system contains miles of wire, thousands of sensors, hundreds of dials, indicators and many switches.

Senior Airman Shawn Watters, 442nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft electrical and environmental systems technician, is currently serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and is assigned to phase dock where he and his team conduct more than 500 inspection hours on the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

"We ensure our systems remain fully operational during inspections and fix any discrepancies," said Watters. "A lot of preventative maintenance is carried out in the phase dock."

Watters departed two days after Christmas in 2011 and said his mission as an E&E technician is to primarily handle the jet's crucial systems such as the flight deck pressurization, landing gear, internal and external lighting and the electrical systems.

"We also assist the fuels and engines shops and the crew chiefs with various troubleshooting," Watters said.

"Additionally, we run the liquid oxygen farm on base where we fill oxygen tanks for the C-130 Hercules who make medical evacuations," he said.

Watters said he typically works more than 12 hours a day to complete assigned tasks at the phase dock.

"Working on the A-10 is amazing because it directly supports the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen on the ground fighting."

If there isn't a lot of work, the team usually checks on their programs such as foreign-object damage ensuring they are up-to-date.

While his duties at Whiteman AFB differ he said he enjoys what he does.

"At Whiteman I am a flightline environmental and electrical technician, so the job is very different," Watters said. "At home I troubleshoot more often and I have to problem solve quickly. The flightline is more unpredictable than the phase dock, because on the line you never know when work is going to occur."

Watters is set to return to Whiteman AFB this summer and said the best part of his deployment thus far is the mission and the people.

"I know that what I am doing helps ensure my brothers in arms come home safe," Watters said. "I love that my mission is primarily troop support and that is a good feeling.

"I work alongside people from the 442nd Fighter Wing and our unit is like a family; they have been great," he said. "I am fortunate to have met so many new people."

In addition to his deployed workload, Watters said he volunteers as a mail carrier and for litter carrier duty.

"We carry wounded troops from the hospital to the aircraft that is taking them out of the war zone," he said.

Overall, Watters said he feels lucky that he's had the opportunity to serve and said the next chance he gets he wants to return to support the troops and the mission overseas.

"It feels good that I'm helping fight against terrorism and now have the opportunity to support Operation Enduring Freedom ... that is why we are here."

Although Watters said he is excited about his deployment he said he misses his family and friends and is looking forward to seeing them.