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Off the Clock, on the Rock, One Maintainer Never Stopped

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kevin Long
  • 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

In December of 2021, an aircraft rescue and firefighting apparatus (ARFF) belonging to the 386th Civil Engineer Squadron at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, was involved in an accident that rendered it inoperable for 514 days.

The ARFF is an emergency service vehicle that provides the firefighting and lifesaving capabilities needed to sustain the fight and protect U.S. and partner nation forces.
With the ARFF out of commission, the risk to the flying mission increased as it meant there was less support available for aircraft emergencies.

The dire need to return the ARFF to service was recognized and a challenge was presented. Luckily, there was one hard-charging Airman with the skills and determination needed for the task at hand.

U.S. Air Force Technical Sgt. Matthew Dewitt deployed from the 87th LRS at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to the 386th LRS as the NCOIC of fire truck and materiel handling equipment maintenance in early 2023.

His colleagues say if he wasn’t busy chasing after enlisted joint professional military education, he would be found charging through the maintenance backlog to ensure full mission readiness.

Through technical expertise and hard work, Dewitt was able to repair the ARFF and fill the critical fire protection gap that was left after the accident. In total, he dedicated 252 labor hours both on and off duty to repair and install over $33,000 worth of parts.

His efforts led to him receiving personal recognition from the 386th CES commander, and he was also named an honorary “fire dawg.”

The fruits of his labor went far beyond just the repair of the ARFF. Dewitt also oversaw a team of six technicians through the 1,300 repairs in support of 92 mission critical vehicles.

Because of this, Dewitt secured the paramount fire protection capabilities needed to protect the aircraft and aircrew that make the mission happen at the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing.