ROK, US crew chiefs keep jets flying
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The flying mission does not stop. At any given hour, teams of maintainers work as their uniforms reek and glisten of oil and hydraulic fluid.
Regardless of the time, day or severity of the weather, these men and women report to their duty sections every day with one mission - keep their aircraft flying.
The KF-16 Fighting Falcon crew chiefs from the Republic of Korea Air Force 123rd Maintenance Flight, 20th Fighter Wing, Seosan Air Base, and the Wolf Pack's 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron worked around the clock to inspect, troubleshoot and maintain F-16s and KF-16s during Exercise Buddy Wing 15-4 here, June 1 to June 5, 2015.
"Our U.S. counterparts collaborated with us to ensure we had the necessary equipment and resources to do our jobs on the flightline," said ROKAF Warrant Officer Young-Ki, 20th Fighter Wing crew chief. "The generous support they provided allowed for a seamless transition in terms of shifting maintenance operations from Seosan to Kunsan Air Base."
This is the first time in 15 years since Young-Ki visited Kunsan Air Base for a Buddy Wing Exercise.
"There were things that have changed since my first Buddy Wing exercise at Kunsan Air Base in 2000," Young-Ki said. "However, our mission to support training sorties through perfect maintenance remains the same."
As Seosan crew chiefs provided maintenance to ROKAF jets, their U.S. counterparts from the 8th AMXS provided support to pilots from the 35th Fighter Squadron.
"My leadership briefed me how Exercise Buddy Wing 15-4 is in place here to strengthen our bond with the ROKAF," said Senior Airmen Brenton Repine, 8th AMXS assistant dedicated crew chief. "I think being a part of the partnership between ROKAF and the U.S. is very special. It's pretty cool to know that I'm part of a coalition force."
Whether working to ensure aircraft are mission capable for exercises like this iteration of Buddy Wing or assisting a wingman with a maintenance issue, a crew chief's primary responsibility is to generate sorties.
"I think everyone on our maintenance team is incredibly vital to the mission," Repine said. "We all have a mission to work towards and if it doesn't get done, then aircraft aren't going to fly."