U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kendra Wertsbaugh, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew member, loads munitions onto an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft during 2020’s first 8th Maintenance Group Weapons Load Crew of the Quarter Competition at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 3, 2020. Each team is graded on four categories including a weapons knowledge test, dress and appearance, a tool box inspection and finally, the weapons load. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony Hetlage)
U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Kendra Wertsbaugh, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew member, loads munitions onto an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft during 2020’s first 8th Maintenance Group Weapons Load Crew of the Quarter Competition at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, April 3, 2020. Each team is graded on four categories including a weapons knowledge test, dress and appearance, a tool box inspection and finally, the weapons load. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Anthony Hetlage)

35th AMU wins load crew competition

by Staff Sgt. Anthony Hetlage
Kunsan Air Base

KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea – -- The 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and the 80th AMU squared off against one another in this year’s first 8th Maintenance Group Weapons Load Crew of the Quarter Competition at Kunsan Air Base, April 3.

Each AMU selects one team comprised of three weapons load crew chiefs to compete in a friendly quarterly competition for bragging rights. Each team is graded on four categories including a weapons knowledge test, their dress and appearance, a tool box inspection and finally, the weapons load itself. The weapons load is evaluated based on safety, reliability, speed and proficiency, as the teams load munitions onto an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.

“Typically, we do head-to-head loads. Now with COVID-19 and social distancing, we are having each crew load at different times,” said Tech. Sgt. Steven Ayala, 8th MXG lead standardization crew chief. “To keep the crowd to a minimum, only supervision and leadership cheered on the load crews.”

Each team loaded two pieces of munitions, including the AIM-9X missile and a guided bomb unit.

“We were there to show our pride and dedication to the weapons community,” said Staff Sgt. Yesenia Perez, 35th AMU weapons load crew team chief. “We work hard day in and day out, and to get to show off our loading skills is definitely a great feeling, especially during the COVID-19 outbreak.”

The 80th AMU won last quarter’s competition although the 35th AMU is the defending champion, winning the Weapons Load Crew of the Year Competition in 2019. Perez and her team kept the 35th AMU’s momentum up by winning this year’s first 8th MXG Weapons Load Crew of the Quarter Competition.

“Getting together for load crew competitions is one of the best feelings,” said Ayala. “The weapons community is full of pride and these competitions are a tradition of honor.”

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