74th AMU prepares for tomorrow

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Johnson
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs
Every day at 5 p.m., the sound of retreat can be heard throughout the base symbolizing the end of the duty day for most people. But, for some Airmen on the flightline, it’s just the beginning of their shift.

U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 74th Aircraft Maintenance Unit work long hours each night, often into early hours of the morning, to perform necessary repairs on the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft in order to maintain mission readiness of the 74th Fighter Squadron.

“The A-10s need a lot of care, so it’s a 24/7 job to make sure they are ready for the mission,” said Airman 1st Class Justin Brooks, 74th AMU crew chief. “You never know what’s going to happen in the world so we have to make sure our jets are always ready to fly.”

The 74th FS is one of Moody's two combat ready A-10 squadrons, with 35 pilots dedicated to carrying out close air support missions.

To maintain this capability, the 74th AMU swing shift maintainers repair broken aircraft and perform routine servicing each night so the pilots are able to fly the next day.

“During a typical shift, we’ll come in, recover incoming jets that were launched by day shift and inspect them,” said Brooks. “From there, we’ll figure out what needs to be done and everyone works together to either fix broken parts or perform routine maintenance and servicing for the next flying day.”

Routine maintenance may include tire changes, replacing nitrogen bottles, and repairing the rudders and elevators in the flight controls, but each day brings new challenges and the Airmen are always assigned new jobs.

“You never really know what you’re going to [work on] when you’re on swing shift,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Hebert, 74th AMU avionics specialist technician. “While day shift’s primary responsibility is launch and recovery, swing shift is typically the maintenance shift.”

Because the majority of the maintenance is performed after the sun goes down, the maintainers face visibility hindrances when working in small areas of the jet.

“After it gets dark, it becomes challenging because we rely on the lights we have just to be able to see,” said Brooks. “We have bright stadium lights that we use to light up the area, but, when it comes to working inside the jet and in small areas, the only thing we have to work with is a flashlight.”

In addition to environmental difficulties encountered, the schedule can put mental stress on the Airmen as well.

“One of the biggest obstacles I face with this schedule is losing time with my family,” said Hebert. “By the time I get home, they’re already in bed, so, it can be very stressful not being able to see them.”

Despite the struggles that are confronted, maintainers working on swing shift are able to adapt, overcome and get the job done.

“We know that we’re out here doing what we have to do,” said Hebert. “They depend on us to fix things that night so the jets can fly again the next day.”

While Airmen are settling in at home, Airmen working swing shift for the 74th AMU are turning wrenches and making repairs throughout the night to ensure the mission can continue the next day.