Wolf Pack weapons to load up pen-wide competition
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Every year, weapons load crews from the South Korean peninsula gather to compete for the title of the best in Korea; but how did Kunsan's 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons loaders get there?
Two teams, one from the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and another from the 80th AMU, were chosen to represent the Wolf Pack during the annual competition held at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Apr.26, 2014.
"First of all, I would have to say I'm proud of the manner in which all of our weapons load crews perform each and every day," said Chief Master Sgt. Shawn Hughes, 8th Maintenance Group wing weapons manager. "The crews put a lot of time and effort into preparing for each competition, but due to the magnitude of the Peninsula Load Competition, each load crew will practice the load multiple times preparing themselves both physically and mentally."
The load crew members representing the 35th AMU load crew are Staff Sgt. Adam Evans, Senior Airman Christopher Webb and Senior Airman Trenton Metyk. Loaders representing the 80th AMU include Staff Sgt. Traumaine Cox, Senior Airman Ryanted Duarte and Senior Airman Stephen Jervis.
The Airmen will be competing against several other weapons load teams from the Republic of Korea air force and the 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron in Osan Air Base, RoK.
To compete, Airmen had to demonstrate their ability to load weapons on an F-16 and pass both a knowledge examination and dress and appearance inspection.
"We each have, or should have, a desire to prove our mettle," said Master Sgt. Louis Famiglietti, 8th Maintenance Group weapons standardization superintendent. "We want to know we can be great at something if we work hard enough to achieve it. These crews aren't picked by accident - make no mistake, they have done their time and have earned their shot."
The weapons standardization section prepares Airmen daily by providing guidance, training and feedback. The standardization team is comprised of NCOs with a great deal of experience in handling the challenges presented within this career field.
The insurmountable amount of knowledge provided by the standardization team ensures load crew members are ready for anything.
Even with all the training provided, WSS doesn't stop there - they ensure Airmen are ready for the pen-wide event by hosting quarterly competitions, such as the recent 1st Quarter Load Competition held Apr. 11, 2014.
According to Famiglietti, the quarterly competitions give Airmen a chance to feel the pressure and become accustomed to having an audience.
"I watched one of my load crews win the pen-wide load back in 2009," said Famiglietti. "It was such a fantastic event with a great atmosphere. I really want my crews to experience it for themselves."
Bragging rights and pride are on the line, but Kunsan Airmen know the load competitions are part of training needed to complete the Wolf Pack mission.
"We all know the stakes of not being ready to wage war," said Famiglietti. "These Airmen have deployed and know people's lives depend on their being ready. Launching an aircraft quickly can be the difference between life and death for our comrades in arms. This responsibility is never taken lightly."
According to the crews, after four quarterly competitions and plenty of practice they feel ready to take the fight north, and maybe educate others on their way, April 26.
"Even though the load will take less than 30 minutes, they will have put many hours into preparing for the 'Big Show,'" said Hughes. "I'm confident our weapons load crews will represent Kunsan well."