Wolf Pack maintainers crush Buddy Wing 16-3
JUNGWON AIR BASE, Republic of Korea — The mission to fly, fight and win is always in effect. Teams of maintainers fight tooth and nail to ensure aircraft are fully mission capable.
During Buddy Wing 16-3, these men and women reported to their duty sections every day with one mission – keep their aircraft flying. Buddy Wing 16-3 was a fourday exercise designed for Republic of Korea air force’s pilots from the 19th Fighter Wing at Jungwon Air Base to train alongside the Wolf Pack’s pilots from the 80th Fighter Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea.
“Our pilots are among the best on the planet, but they only get to claim that title because they have the best maintained aircraft on the planet,” said Master Sgt. Justin Holacka, 80th Aircraft Maintenance Unit airframe power plant general section chief. “The jets are machines, and they break, so the maintainers have to step up and fix them so the pilots are able to take the fight north.”
Because of Buddy Wing’s mission and operations tempo, maintenance Airmen must remain alert and aware of every maintenance issue involving their aircraft.
“It is important because pilots depend on us to provide them with mission capable aircraft,” said Staff Sgt. DeCedrick Randle, 80th Aircraft Maintenance Unit electrical and environmental craftsman.“Discrepancies occur frequently, which often cause the aircraft to be grounded. So when a Buddy Wing arrives and our pilots have the opportunity to train with our ROKAF colleagues, it is up to us maintainers to up keep and provide readily available aircraft.”
Not only did Buddy Wing provide an opportunity for pilots to conduct combined training, but it also was a unique chance for some of the young maintenance Airmen to get some exposure to conducting their duties alongside their host nation partners.
“I think it’s imperative that the younger Airmen know that they play a certain part with the Koreans as well as improving on their skills as well while we’re here,” said Randle.“This shows Airmen they can get the mission done at a moment’s notice in any location.”
While playing a behind-the-scenes role in the ROK/US interoperability piece, they take extra time out to go about their day in the right way. This translates into doing maintenance safely, doing it by the book, and ensuring their attention to detail is spot on as they partake in the process of facilitating mission capable combat sorties.
“If our maintenance didn’t get done, the pilots wouldn’t get the training they need,” Holacka said. “Our pilots rely on their training to be ready for any contingency they may face up there, so it’s our job as maintainers to ensure the aircraft are ready and able to perform those missions.”
The maintenance the 80th AMU’s Juvats provide also ensures aircraft that are ready to fight tonight in a moment’s notice.
“Our Wolf Pack maintainers are the finest maintainers around,” Holacka said.“They work tirelessly 24 hours a day in the elements to make sure the pilots have the safest and most lethal force in the world.”
These men and women handle all the scheduled maintenance and system repairs so when it’s time to fight, pilots can trust that they have a fully serviceable and functional aircraft.
“It’s our job to help ensure our pilots can gear all of their focus and preparation towards mission planning and returning to base safely,” Randle said. “We’re constantly leaning forward to take care of scheduled maintenance and remedy small discrepancies that may cause a problem in flight.”
Along with providing a unique training opportunity, the combined nature of the exercise demonstrates the alliance’s resolve and America’s commitment to the people of Korea.
“I think it’s very important that we keep an esprit de corps with the ROKAF,” Mills said. “It really gives me a humbled feeling to know that even though we don’t speak the same language, or have the same cultural backgrounds, they understand us from a maintenance perspective.”
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