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Maintaining mobility: Reserve Airmen keep eyes to the sky

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Miles Wilson
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar— Every time an aircraft takes off from Al Udeid AB, it is required to go through various preflight inspections and checks. The process is reciprocated after it lands, to ensure that the aircraft is working properly and ready at a moment’s notice.


Airmen with the 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 746th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit, are responsible for carrying out these checks on the C-130 Hercules assigned to Al Udeid, and conduct the repairs necessary to keep these aircraft in the air.


“We play a part in making the aircraft fully mission capable,” said Chief Master Sgt. David Prokop, superintendent of the 746th EAMU. “We go over the entire airframe and make sure that nothing is leaking or missing.”


Airmen with the 746th EAMU, all reservists who deployed from Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, work diligently and efficiently despite the differences in the work environment here. Half of these Airmen are first-time deployers, and have taken up a routine of excellence in their work.

“Our Airmen came in and hit the ground running,” said Capt. Donald Singleton, officer in charge of the 746th EAMU. “We have seen amazing work since being here and have received AMU of the month three times since deploying.”


Soon after arriving, many of these Airmen faced their first real-world challenge.


“We were alerted to fly to a forward operating base to transport a critically injured patient back to Al Udeid for further transport to Germany,” said Prokop. “On engine start, the aircraft experienced a grounding malfunction. We had to use an aircraft from a later line instead.”


In order to switch to a new aircraft, the maintenance team had to completely deconfigure the primary aircraft, and then reconfigure the new one.


“The airplane they used had just returned from a mission three hours prior,” explained Prokop. “It still had to be preflight inspected; it still needed to be fueled. So while we had crew chiefs working on that part, we had other crew chiefs reconfiguring the aircraft and engineers prepping it for flight. It was a concert of people and actions making it happen and getting it done.”


Due to the combined work of several different agencies, the patient was able to be successfully transported and treated, reaching a stable condition.


“It was a true herculean effort by maintenance and operations as well as the aeromedical personnel that resulted in saving a life,” said Prokop. “Our Airmen got to see the outcome of their work and effort. They now know that what they do makes a huge impact on the mission, and sometimes on people’s lives.”


On top of aeromedical evacuation, the C-130 also provides the capability to transport both supplies and troops and is capable of landing on improvised dirt runways, making it a truly versatile asset. The 746th EAMU provides both preventative and responsive maintenance to the airframe to ensure that mission continues.


“Seeing our birds fly is the most rewarding part of my job,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Alex, a crew chief with the 746th EAMU. “When we go out to complete inspections, and we actually find a discrepancy that could injure personnel or fail the mission, it really makes it worth it.”