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Bagram AMMO troops build the ‘BOOM’ for combat airpower

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Rau
  • 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

In a far corner of the base, behind fences, checkpoints and armed guards, rests one of the most explosive places on Bagram.  Filled with tons of bombs, missiles and ammunition, the Airmen of the Munitions Storage Area, or “bomb dump,” provides all the necessary weapons required to project combat airpower.

 “We provide reliable munitions to accomplish the mission and to keep the pilots safe,” said Senior Master. Sgt. Antonio Cousin, 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron munitions flight chief. “Our goal is to give our pilots the weapons to impede and engage the enemy. And the munitions stockpile is an avenue to achieve that goal.”

To keep the stockpile combat ready takes effort and team of motivated Airmen. Take for example, Airman Morgan Matteson, 455th EMXS Munitions Systems apprentice, here on her first deployment, and less than eight months out of basic military training.

“I am loving this deployment,” she said. “We have a higher tempo here, meaning the more we build the more they drop. I get to do things here that I don’t get to do at home station.”

While providing weapons to the pilots in order to execute the mission is paramount, Matteson also gets the added benefit of learning her job through this unique opportunity.

“After the mission, my priority is learning my Career Development Course books,” said Matteson. “This deployment gives me a hands-on experience, and that is extremely helpful in learning my job.”

Developing these Airmen and facilitating munitions builds falls to front-line supervisors like Staff Sgt. Chris Rintelmann, 455th EMXS Munitions Systems craftsman, who is on his fourth deployment. It is also his job to connect his team to the mission.

“I am entrusted with making our new Airmen better at their job, and giving them new career experience,” stated Rintelmann. “I make it a point to remind them that without AMMO, the pilots can’t be driving back enemies; the guys on the ground need us.”

So far, in just over a month, Rintelmann’s team has built, inspected or rebuilt more than 60 GBU-54 500 pound bombs, and the pilots have dropped them with a perfect, 100-percent detonation rate.

But being a munitions troop is more than just building bombs and training for tomorrow’s conflict, as Cousin explains, it’s also about your Wingmen and your AMMO pride.

“I have been set up with an incredible team of top-notch Airmen who have been pedal to the metal since we arrived,” said Cousin. “We train all the time for this, and there are no blue bands (inert bombs) here, only yellow ones (live, high-explosive ordinance).

“We are a results based-organization, and we take great pride in that.”