Armorers equip sentries

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson
  • 23d Wing Public Affairs

Enclosed in a secure room with cameras and deadly force authorization warnings plastered everywhere, these Airmen arm our sentries with an arsenal that could be used to save lives.

Moody’s 23d Security Forces Squadron Armory personnel supply firepower to defend our frontlines at the beginning of each shift, while also ensuring these weapons are properly maintained.

“We’re arming people with the tools to protect themselves and others,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Dennis Capps, 23d SFS entry controller and armorer. “You have to make sure everything is in working order, well maintained and issued by the book. You don’t want them depending on [the weapon] and it fails or they don’t have the right equipment to do so.”

To prevent equipment from failing, armorers use attention to detail to ensure the equipment in the armory is accounted for and ready for use at all times. This ranges from 9 mm handguns to 240B machine guns.

“As armorers, we maintain accountability for everything that is in the armory,” said Capps. “There are no small mistakes, [any mistake] is big and you can expect consequences for those mistakes.”

Staff Sgt. Bradley Nendel, 23d SFS Armory NCO in charge, added that improperly maintained, mishandled, and even lost equipment are often products of complacency and oversight. He explained that he encourages his Airmen to have the mindset of taking inspections seriously and individuals checking out weapons to do the same.

“We are held accountable for weapon that are checked out of here daily and it’s down to every part on the weapon and every piece of ammunition,” said Nendel. “If something comes back broken we have to catch it so we can find a way to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

The goal of every armorer is to get through the shift with no mistakes, to maintain 100 percent accountability of all assets, and to ensure privately-owned weapons are secure.

Moody, like many U.S. Air Force installations, does not allow Airmen, dependents or visitors to have weapons in their possession while on the installation but provide temporary storage for individuals running errands or visiting and permanent storage for Airmen that live in base housing or the dormitories. Anyone with a weapon must notify the entry controller and check it in prior to gaining access to the installation.

In addition to storing weapons, armorers ensure they stay clean and if there’s damage they cannot repair, the weapon is taken to Combat Arms Training and Maintenance instructors for repairs.

“Every six months we have an inspection where CATM instructors make sure all the weapons are meeting standards,” said Nendel. “If anything goes wrong or is broken during the inspection they’ll notify us and we’ll bring it to them for repair.”

Armorers take pride in ensuring weapons are properly maintained year round so few human-error issues are found during the inspection. Capps remarked that being responsible for the weapons of entry controllers that could be used to protect themselves and others makes the armorer position a stressful but important job.

“It’s a rewarding job,” said Capps. “You get to see everyone arming up and getting ready to take their post and there’s a feeling of accomplishment when it’s all done because you’re helping them protect themselves and others.”