BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan --
Here at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing’s mission is to defend, support and deliver airpower and you can’t deliver airpower without well maintained aircraft.
For BAF, it’s the responsibility of experts like Senior Airman Kevin Zaragoza, 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief, to ensure that every component of these high performance aircraft is maintained to the most exacting standards.
“As the crew chief here, it is my job to do basic maintenance and inspections on the F-16,” said Zaragoza. “My job is to ensure that the aircraft are ready to fly at a moment’s notice so that pilots can safely and effectively complete their mission.”
Zaragoza said that he loves coming to work because every day is different.
“Our days really depends on how the jets want to behave,” said Zaragoza. “On any day, the jet can come down broken and depending on what’s wrong with it, we would have to find the problem and fix it. Other days they can come down code one (no issues) and that is a good day for all of us.”
When it comes to maintenance, Zaragoza has only been in the Air Force for three years and conducts inspections, scheduled maintenance and fixes other maintenance issues..
“I do preflight, post-flight, thru-flight, end of runway inspections, any maintenance that comes up if the jets broken,” said Zaragoza. “While I am inspecting, I am looking for anything out of the ordinary. We have technical orders that tell us what should be there and what shouldn’t be there. The TO tells us everything we need to know about the aircraft and how to fix it.”
According to Senior Master Sgt. Juan Millian, 455 EAMXS Lead Production Superintendent, Zaragoza has been working extremely hard since arriving and is pushes the squadron towards mission success.
“Airman Zaragoza has been a rock star from day one,” said Millian. “Not only is he dedicated to the mission and epitomizes the Cobra principles, Zaragoza also outshines his peers by making sure his assigned aircraft is ready ahead of schedule completing all his crew chief taskings.”
Hailing from Carson City, Nev., Zaragoza is currently deployed from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. serving on his first deployment.
“I was pretty excited when I found out I was deploying,” said Zaragoza. “Growing up, I always saw on the television the troops over here fighting for our country, so to see that and actually be here doing the same thing is awesome.
‘I joined the Air Force because I wanted to be a part of something greater than myself. The Air Force offered a lot of opportunities for me to better myself, so I took that step and joined the world’s greatest Air Force.”
The 455th EAMXS mission is to execute the Air Tasking Order by disciplined maintenance for responsive airpower.
“My job here is important because these jets needs to be inspected to make sure they are safe to fly for the next mission,” said Zaragoza. “I ensure that the pilots have a safe aircraft that’s ready to fight.”