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LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- A C-130 from the 302nd Air Expedionary Group equipped with the U.S. Forest Service’s Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System gets refueled before departing to support ongoing wildfires in Mexico and Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Scott Saldukas)
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Maintainers help keep birds up, fires down

Posted 4/21/2011   Updated 4/21/2011 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Scott Saldukas
47th Flying Training Wing public affairs

4/21/2011 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- While racecars seize the limelight upon crossing the finish line, people tend to forget that a team in the shadows helped get them to the end.

Racers have the help of their pit crew, actors have a director and pilots rely on maintainers to ensure the mission gets completed.

While aircrews from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., are here helping with the high-tempo wildfire support in Texas and Mexico, about 16 maintenance Airmen are working long hours to ensure the crews have the best aircraft possible.

"We are here to support the aircraft so the pilots are able to help control the fire from the air," said Staff Sgt. Anthony Jordan, who is deployed here with the 302nd Air Expeditionary Group.

Even though the task at hand may be similar to what goes on at their home station, the operations tempo here is demanding.

"Getting here knowing that the aircraft needs to get back in the air in a short amount of time to help people adds a sense of urgency to everything," Sergeant Jordan said.

Senior Master Sgt. Mark Petrosky, who is also with the 302nd AEG, said that on average, the ground crew has about 60 minutes to prepare an aircraft from touchdown to take off.

"It's like we're a pit crew here," he said. "It's a very hectic tempo but we are getting done in about 35 minutes."

While the mission is ongoing with aircraft in and out all day, the maintainers know that the frantic schedule is worth it.

"We volunteered to come down knowing we would be working long hours like this, but it is worth it knowing that we are able to make a difference," Sergeant Jordan said.

Since operations began April 16, the deployed Airmen have been able to see firsthand the result of their hard work.

Not worried about who gets the credit, the maintenance personnel here are only focused on getting the job done.

"We know the job doesn't bring a lot of attention to us, but as long as we support the aircraft and get the job done, that's all that matters," Sergeant Jordan said. "The aircrew gives us plenty of praise for the job we have done."

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