Beverly Pack 16-2: Wolf Pack maintainers execute rapid exercise ops tempo
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- When it comes to getting planes in the sky, the 80th and 35th Aircraft Maintenance Units are unrivaled.
The 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron encompasses flightline maintainers that perform day to day maintenance and servicing, launch and recovery operations for Kunsan’s F-16 fleet.
“We maintain every jet on the ramp, whether it’s the tires to the vertical stabilizer, or simple parts such as a light bulb to extreme parts such as a rudder servo actuator, we are in charge of everything on the aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Rachuy, 80th AMU dedicated crew chief.
“Our responsibility is to maintain the jet and keep it safe for the pilots and whoever the next people are to work on it,” said Senior Airman Kollin Bell, 35th AMU crew chief. “It’s important for us to complete our mission so we can get jets in the air and complete sorties to protect the Republic of Korea.”
Transitioning from hot and humid summers to snowy and freezing winters doesn't put a stop to the mission tempo at Kunsan.
"During the summer, you get dehydrated and deal with the giant mosquitos, and in the winter we're working on a thing made out of metal so when you touch it your hands are immediately 10 times colder,” said Rachuy. “We continue to push things out no matter the weather; we try to stay vigilant and complete our mission."
Flight line personnel continue to meet mission necessities despite manning challenges, increased ops tempo and weather-related contingencies. The 80th and 35th always figure out a way to get Wolf Pack jets in the air.
“The operations tempo when deployed and when doing exercises at Kunsan differentiates greatly,” Rachuy added. “Where we would put out about 1 or 2 jets in 6 hours at a deployed location, we push out jets at a more constant and rapid rate during exercises at Kunsan.”
Another added stressor during exercises is working in chemical protective gear.
“Chemical gear makes it a little more difficult to work during alarm black,” said Bell. “Wearing the gloves gets complicated, especially when it comes to getting into some of the tight spaces on the jets and it limits our mobility.”
Rauchy says that Kunsan is the most challenging exercise environment he has ever experienced.
"The exercises here leave us with a more accurate mind set of what a real time incident would be like,” Rachuy said. “I think it’s extremely important for younger airmen because they get a taste of what it would be like if we went into a contingency scenario and had to prep the jets in an extremely short time period.”