AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar --
Airman 1st Class Joshua Elmore has been in the Air Force a little over a year.
His first deployment started in January at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, with the 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, and he has been an RC-135 Rivet Joint crew chief at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, for just about eight months.
For him, deployment has been a crucial training opportunity.
“Since we have a limited number of jets and a smaller flying schedule as a result, it makes our workflow slow enough that we can take time to train,” he said. “At home, there are 20-plus jets, and it's hard to take your time given the flying schedule. Here I have a lot more time to get trained up on things that I wasn't either: one, comfortable with, or two, have any knowledge of.”
As he learns the ins and outs of his job, he is continuously responsible for the condition of the aircraft. He oversees tasks ranging from changing panels, refilling liquid oxygen and refueling the jet, to conducting routine inspections.
“It’s really just making sure the jet’s ready to fly,” he said about being a crew chief. “We do a lot of inspections, some are special ones we have to do like time-complaint inspections. Basically, every certain number of hours of flight time, there’s a specific inspection. Other than that, I’m basically just a typical mechanic except on an aircraft.”
He can work on an aircraft anywhere in the world, so the job is pretty routine for him. Deployment was more sudden than surprising to Elmore. The job itself is something he enjoys doing.
“I didn’t expect to be deployed this fast for sure,” Elmore laughed. “But it’s a good learning opportunity for me because we don’t have as many jets as home station does. We have a lot more time for me to get trained on things.”
But as far as first deployments go, there haven’t been too many curveballs.
“There are days that we have a lot to do and days that we just launch and recover one aircraft,” he said. “We simply do what needs to be done.”
And for Elmore, he gets to work in a field he loves every day. Before joining the Air Force, he had been in college to study mechanical engineering.
“I chose this job,” he said. “It can be hard work, but it feels good to see all the effort you put in pay off. It’s a satisfying feeling to think ‘I helped get that jet up in the air.’”