Deployed maintainers keep the BRRRT in the sky

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Eboni Reams
  • 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing

The 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing is comprised of multiple units throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command’s area of responsibility and each unit employs capabilities integral to the mission. The wing’s 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron here conducts combat operations supported by 447th Air Expeditionary Group’s maintainers.


These maintainers, deployed from Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, are in charge of ensuring A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft are in the best shape possible. They load them with operational munitions and ready them to fly combat operations in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.


“The 354th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit maintainers are providing safe and reliable maintenance to keep our A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft in the fight daily,” said Capt. Matthew Pardini, 354th EAMU officer in-charge. “Our maintainers trained at home station for a year to ensure we can support the Combined Forces Air Component Commander’s priority of empowering our partners and allies while strengthening relationships and improving cooperation and interoperability among nations.” 


Executing the air tasking order every day requires Airmen, from the lowest level to the top, to efficiently perform their contribution to the fight.


“Our job is to load reliable munitions so when our pilots take off, the munitions are ready to do their job,” said Master Sgt. Gary Serrano, 354th EAMU weapons flight chief. “We don’t just load bombs; we also conduct operational checks and ensure they’re good to go.”


From building and loading munitions, to maintaining the aircraft and all of its systems, it takes Airmen focused on the goal of delivering combat airpower to keep the mission going non-stop. Also, the Airmen conducting these missions span more than ten Air Force maintenance specialties.


“Aircraft maintenance is more than just the crew chief launching the plane. A team of almost 300 maintainers make this mission possible,” Pardini said.  “We have flight line Airmen who are responsible for launching and recovering, fixing aircraft that break during combat sorties, and reloading expended munitions. We also have back shop Airmen who do a stellar job of repairing parts and systems that flight line Airmen may be unable to fix on the spot.” 


Pardini also explained that back shop capabilities include phase inspection dock Airmen who strip the aircraft to complete intense inspections and repairs, and munitions Airmen who build and deliver ordnance loaded onto the A-10s. 


“Some of these maintainers are very new to the Air Force and are getting an historic look at the capability and power of the organization they recently chose to be a part of,” he added.


One of those newer Airmen offered his perspective on being part of history.


“This is my first deployment and I’ve been enjoying it,” said Airman 1st Class Joshua Marshall, 354th EAMU weapons load crew member. “I know [the mission] has to be done, so I’m glad we’re the ones out here doing it.”


The unit is halfway through a six-month rotation and has already surpassed the last unit’s bomb total and broke the three-month record for bombs dropped.


“Hard work and expertise is the key to giving the A-10C operators aircraft capable of providing historical numbers of munitions expended to help defeat ISIS,” Pardini said. “Truly, no one does it better than the men and women of the Bulldog AMU.”