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Armament shop keeps BAF locked, loaded

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Whitney Amstutz
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Putting the POW in Airpower, Airmen assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Armament shop are charged with the responsibility of ensuring weapons systems here are locked, loaded and standing by to support counterterrorism operations.

Acting as Freedom’s Sentinel is no small task and demands the undivided attention and unyielding devotion of those bearing the armament patch.

“We fix and maintain all the weapons systems for the aircraft such as pylons, bomb racks, launchers, rocket pods and guns,” said Staff Sgt. Damion Arendtsen, 455 EMXS Armament technician. “It’s important because we make sure the weapons systems are functioning properly, so that at the critical moment when a pilot needs that asset, they can be confident it will work and the mission will be completed.”

A pivotal piece of guaranteeing that critical moment goes off without a hitch is completing day-to-day maintenance.

“The Armament shop does all major scheduled and unscheduled maintenance inspections on weapons support equipment associated with the F-16 weapons system,” said Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Keaunui, 455 EMXS Armament flight chief. “Armament Airmen troubleshoot wiring on equipment in-shop and gun system jams on-aircraft. They are also responsible for maintaining all War Readiness Material assets, which are equipment in extended storage.”

For Airmen like Arendtsen, each day presents new challenges and problems to solve.

“On an average day I could be conducting scheduled maintenance ,which is performed in specific cycles based on either a set number of months or the number of times the weapon fires,” the staff sergeant said. “I might also be working B maintenance, which is anything that has broken between scheduled inspections. I could also be working on the flightline if loaders have issues with any of our equipment or a gun on an aircraft; I never know what the day will hold.”

In spite of their hectic and often unpredictable schedules, both Arendtsen and Keaunui make quick work of finding value in the long hours and taking pride in a job well done.

“Knowing I am a big part of getting the mission done and being able to help the men and women on the flightline out is extremely rewarding to me,” Arendtsen said. “I get a lot of satisfaction out of knowing that because I was able to troubleshoot an issue, someone’s day just got a lot easier.”

Keaunui echoed his teammate’s sentiments.

“It is rewarding to see Airmen do their job and do it well,” he said. “It is a reflection of not only their trainers, supervisors and unit, but also their self-pride and quality of work in all they do.”