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Vehicle Management Airmen work day and night to keep vehicles serviceable

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Natalie Filzen
  • 386 AEW Public Affairs

Soft country music plays on the radio of the main Vehicle Maintenance shop on base, as day shift vehicle maintainers are working on unique issues on various vehicles. One maintainer is troubleshooting an automatic brake system module under a truck, another is lubricating the actuator of the defrost setting and another is replenishing power steering fluid.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brendan O'Brien, a main shop mechanic with the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, can even recognize the license plates of the vehicles he’s helped repair.

“I take pride when I'm walking [around base] and see the different vehicles I've worked on, even if it's a small maneuver, like changing the headlights on a vehicle,” said O’Brien.

With potentially long turnaround times when it comes to ordering vehicle parts to the base, the mechanics have adapted with innovative techniques; an airman once welded pieces of metal together to create a Humvee handle instead of having to order one.

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Christopher Schwebach, the vehicle management superintendent with the 386th ELRS, explained how customer service, the main shop, fleet management analysis and materiel control all contribute to the mission as they each manage different phases of the assets’ lifecycle.

“Fleet Management and Analysis are our controllers,” said Schwebach. “They work closely alongside myself and our flight chief to right size the fleet, account the costs and document maintenance properly. We receive vehicles, either by plane or through the port, document them and send them forward or absorb them into our fleet.”

FM&A also oversee the vehicle control officer program, which requires every unit that uses a vehicle on base to designate a vehicle control officer. They work closely with the VCOs to track down mileage and hours of the vehicles, including any constraints.

“We look for trends to save Air Force assets, money, and most importantly, to keep people safe, because we don't want anybody getting hurt in the mission,” said Schwebach. “We're all working hard towards the same goal, and it would be a 0 if a vehicle is inadvertently being misused.”

Schwebach also encourages anybody who puts their hands on the steering wheel to take ownership during the drive, the same as one would of their living spaces and personal items.

“Our goal is to work with people to keep their vehicles in service instead of playing catch up,” Schwebach said.

Every single vehicle that drives around the base is a time saving tool for each airman that operates it, as it assists in transporting necessary supplies and cuts down on transportation time.

“We maintain everything from security forces vehicles, Humvees, sweepers to keep the streets clean and water tankers to distribute water throughout the base,” said O’Brien. “So we are an integral part of the mission on every level.”