Kunsan, Misawa Airmen integrate skills to save resources

by Story and photo by Staff Sgt. Shawn Nickel
354th Fighter Wing PAO
 EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- With budgets under constant constraint and fluctuation in manning, even at home stations, Airmen have to be creative to save tax payer’s dollars while keeping Airmen rested to maintain top performance in life saving missions.
Maintenance Airmen from Kunsan Air Base (AB), Republic of Korea, and Misawa AB, Japan combined their skills saving these man-hours and temporary duty funds during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 16-3.
“Adapt, overcome and persevere, and work smarter, not harder,” said Staff Sgt. Shawn Layou, an 8th Maintenance Squadron aircrew egress systems craftsman assigned to Kunsan. “With limited resources and a mission that is mandatory to complete, we are getting creative by combining our knowledge and pushing through whatever it takes to keep the pilots safe and the jets in the air.”
Working together on a F-16D Fighting Falcon aircraft from Misawa AB that was proving to be particularly difficult, Layou, Senior Airman Shane Sells, also from Kunsan, and Staff Sgt. Corey Holt, an aircrew egress systems craftsman with Misawa’s 35th Maintenance Squadron, kept the mood light with jokes while working though rebuilding the ejection seat system in the fighter jet.
“We are all certified on the same systems, but use each other’s tech data for different models to ensure we are making every step exactly right,” said Holt.
By integrating, they have extended coverage from 12 to 24 hours and reduced the need for additional manning by 50 percent.  
Although the savings are a massive advantage to the Air Force and national budget, they said there are other great things about the combination of skills.
“Meeting new people is the best part about being here, but there is the added benefit of experiencing new things,” Holt said. “We work in a small career field; however, everyone doesn’t know each other. We get to exchange stories and ideas and learn tricks of the trade we would never read in operating instructions.”
In addition to the day in and day out of aircrew egress systems, Sells, as the youngest of the three, said the highlight of RF-A for him is broader. 
“Being among so many different units, countries and services, you see a different perspective of how the flight line works,” he said. “We are breaking out of the norm and experiencing different career fields, seeing new airframes and exchanging experience for experience. Overall, we will leave here much more seasoned Airmen.”

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