Panton, Juvat AMU crews battle out weapons load competition

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing PAO

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Weapons load crew members from the 8th Maintenance Group went head to head here in the fourth quarter weapons loading competition Jan. 9.

Weapons load crews from the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and 80th Aircraft Maintenance Unit raced against time as they hoped to take home the ultimate prize - bragging rights and their names on the Wolf Pack's prestigious weapons load crew trophy.

"This competition has been going on for many years - pretty much since the Air Force began," said Tech. Sgt. Thomas Anderson, 8 MXG weapons standardization crew member. "There's a lot of heritage in it; everyone knows about it and everyone wants to be a part of it. It definitely gives bragging rights to the winners and allows the two AMUs a chance to have a friendly competition for all of wing leadership to see."

With just an 11-point lead comprising one discrepancy difference, Staff Sgt. Trumaine Cox, Senior Airman Gavin Moses and Senior Airman Benjamin Wilsey of crew 40 from the 80 AMU were named the winners.

"It feels great to win this competition in front of all our peers and leadership," Cox said.

Both weapons load crews included a crew chief, a two-man and a three-man, each with specific and varying responsibilities. Although both teams started out with 2,000 points at the start of the timed competition, evaluators deducted or added points in accordance with the crew's technical order accuracy. Scores taken from a multiple-choice written test, dress and appearance evaluation and a tool kit inspection were also judged and added to the final score.

"Both crews distinguished themselves and definitely 'pushed it up' and 'crushed it,'" said Col. Matthew "Phoenix" Sanford, 8 MXG commander. "This is the third load competition since I've been here and everyone gets better every time."

According to Anderson, the final score of both crews was the closest evaluators have ever recorded. Although the crews were tasked with simultaneously loading one AIM-9 L/M air-to-air missile and two GBU-38 bombs on a BRU-57 bomb rack in 30 minutes or less, both teams completed the task in approximately 14 minutes with only a seven-second difference.

"As a weapons loader our responsibility is to bring combat air power to the Air Force, and we have a saying within weapons - without weapons it's just another airline," Anderson said. "We make sure when the order is given we can generate safe and reliable aircraft munitions. This job can be very dangerous, so Airmen in this career field must be very proficient and maintain technical knowledge. Without weapons loaders being proficient at their job, we would never be able to get aircraft in the air with weapons capable of striking targets. Ultimately, we maintain Kunsan's ability to take the fight north."

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