LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Benjamin Gonzalez IV, 47th Maintenance Directorate swing shift productions supervisor, was chosen by wing leadership to be the “XLer” of the week, for the week of Feb. 26, 2018, at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas.
The “XLer” award, presented by Col. Charlie Velino, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, is given to those who consistently make outstanding contributions to their unit and the Laughlin mission.
Gonzalez, a T-6A Texan II technician, specializes in the on-board oxygen generating systems. Though Laughlin has not experienced any reported hypoxia related issues locally, the T-6 fleet has had reported issues in the past. He has worked exclusively with the system since 2003.
“The whole time I was with the T-6, I was able to learn, research, practice troubleshoot techniques and skills to lead the OBOG system issue,” Gonzalez said. “Since I’m in depth in the system, I can help out [my coworkers] when they’re troubleshooting and checking the system. Just those little things I’ve learned from years past have enabled us to show that our troubleshooting skills lead us right now in Air Education and Training Command.”
Gonzalez cites further that from his extensive training and experience, both abiding and mentoring others to follow procedures and checklists according to the standard operating procedures not only saves pilots from hypoxia issues, but also how it helps Laughlin lead Air Education and Training Command in having zero reported hypoxia issues.
“At the end of the day, those [maintainers] care about those two guys in the aircraft,” Gonzalez said. “It’s on their mind all the time, and it’s more important to me because my son is going to be out here training too. I’ve felt that way since day one, but now it’s that much more important for me to get it done, and get it done right.”
Being a supervisor for one of the aircraft’s more vital systems, Gonzalez passes down his knowledge of the OBOG system to his subordinates in a practical manner.
“I think it’s what would be called a ‘player’s coach,’” Gonzalez said. “Having been a mechanic for twenty years, I know what these guys go through on a daily basis—I can relate to it. My management style is I listen to my people.”
Gonzalez also took several extended temporary duties to Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, where he worked side-by-side with fellow maintainers to further deepen their knowledge on the OBOG system. According to Gonzalez, the purpose of the temporary duties were to explore new ideas and learn from each other on a level playing field.
“We helped with integrity checks with the entire system,” said Gonzalez, who spearheaded the trip alongside fellow maintainer Omar Garza. “We talked to the other bases, opened up and made sure they understood we’re here to help, and learn from them as well.”
Gonzalez, recognizing that no Airmen wins their awards alone, appreciates the hard work everyone has done both for him and around him in his shop. He gives full credit to the maintenance team, his crew on his shift, and his supervisors for any accolades.
“But most importantly, it’s my wife,” Gonzalez said. “Sometimes, we hardly ever see each other, and it’s rough for her having to run the show. She, the crew, and my supervisors that trained me are why I’m here today.”
For the dedication and work that Gonzalez put into ensuring pilot safety with his specialization in the OBOG system, and for spreading that wealth of knowledge to both his immediate crew and bases across the Air Force that has led to zero hypoxia issues, Gonzalez has earned this week’s XLer.