DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
The shop rattles with the sounds of ratchets turning, hammers banging and engines running. Sweat covers foreheads and oil dries on the hands of Airmen. A constant flow of tasks are handed down with one overall goal, getting aircraft off the ground and into the wild blue.
The 7th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, provides equipment maintenance on and off aircraft. The Aerospace Ground Equipment flight specializes in providing the flightline with equipment that ensures our aircraft can feed the fight and kill targets.
AGE technicians work with the mindset of the flightline being their customer. Armament technicians, who operate the jammers that load bombs, and aircraft crew chiefs, who need external power sources and cooling units to troubleshoot aircraft, can’t do their jobs without the maintenance of these pieces of machinery.
“We do our best to support our customers on the flightline because the mission needs both of us,” said 2nd Lt. Heather McNatt, 7th EMS AGE officer in charge.
Senior Master Sgt. Roberto Garza, 7th EMS AGE flight chief, said that without AGE Airmen working together to give the flightline what it needs, we would never hear that roaring take-off sound.
There are three teams at the AGE flight that ensure 721 pieces of machinery, valued at $40 million, stay in a mission ready state. The inspection team focuses on the preventive maintenance of those pieces by conducting scheduled inspections. The maintenance team receives damaged and broken pieces and works quickly and safely as possible to get them back on the line. They also have a team that specializes in the maintenance of munition trailers.
“On the inspection side, we don’t believe in waiting until we see a problem to fix it,” said Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson, 7th EMS AGE inspection team technician. “With our inspections we often prevent equipment malfunctions by noticing a potential problem before it occurs.”
Johnson said that when they discover a malfunction during an inspection they’ll either fix the issue themselves or send the piece to the maintenance team to troubleshoot and repair the specific problem.
Senior Airman Tyler Sanders, 7th EMS AGE maintenance team technician said, “Every day is a different priority for the maintenance team. It could be working on jammers, generators or aircraft jacks but no matter what we’re ready to go when something needs repairs. We won’t leave work until the flightline has what it needs.”
This unit supports two wings and two airframes, the 7th Bomb Wing’s B-1B Lancer and 317th Airlift Wing’s C-130J Super Hercules.
“We take pride in supporting both wings,” Garza said. “We send our Airmen with both of those aircraft every time they deploy. When you put our equipment and people together, we have the largest AGE unit in all of Air Force Global Strike Command and we need every bit of that size for what’s required of us.”
Garza said they’re one of the few AGE flights in the Air Force that support two separate wings.
“When it comes down to it, we are the lifeline of the flightline because bombs can’t get loaded and aircraft can’t get into the air without the equipment we work on,” said Senior Airman Michaelene Tulba, 7th EMS AGE training monitor.
This AGE flight recognizes, accepts, and takes pride in their role in the mission, which is providing daily support to Team Dyess’ flightline personnel. This is one of many examples of how Airmen work together to get the job done.