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Keeping the Falcons rolling

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
  • 455th AEW Public Affairs
When F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft take off and land here they do so using tires that were inspected, cleaned and repaired by SSgt. William “Willy” Reibsome III.

Reibsome is the sole F-16 tire and wheel technician assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron and is constantly working to keep up with the fast pace of the combat airpower mission at BAF.

“When tires come in from the flight line, I tear them down and inspect them before rebuilding and repairing them if needed before they are sent back to the flight line,” said Reibsome.

Being a one man shop here brings more challenges then being back at his home station of Aviano Air Base, Italy.

“It’s a lot faster pace and busier than at home station,” said Reibsome. “Back home our wheel and tire shop builds around 400 wheels a year. So far I have built 200 tires during my deployment here, which is a much higher rate than home station.

“SSgt Reibsome has built every single F-16 wheel and tire assembly by himself since arriving at BAF in April. Back at home station he would have four other personnel to work with,” said Master Sgt. Aaron Lerding, 455th EMXS maintenance flight chief.

Being the sole wheel and tire technician adds to his importance here because he touches every tire that goes to the flight line for the F-16s to use in completing the combat airpower mission here.

“Without wheels you can’t fly,” said Reibsome. “You need them to take off and land and you can’t taxi without them. If you don’t have wheels the mission wouldn’t happen.”

“F-16’s don’t fly without the wheel and tire guy,” said Lerding. “Without him the mission can’t continue, bottom line.”

Working in a deployed environment does have its benefits.

“It’s very rewarding knowing that you’re supporting the deployed mission here,” said Reibsome. “It helps with self-pride and self-confidence to know that we’re doing good things supporting the Afghan National Army and also the Coalition forces on the ground.”

Not only is Reibsome keeping up with the combat airpower mission pace here he is excelling.

“SSgt Reibsome is a true craftsman at this trade, his positive attitude is infectious,” said Lerding. “He is an integral part of the world famous highly respected maintenance flight here at BAF.”