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Maintainers help aircrews deliver bundles of joy

Maintainers help aircrews deliver bundles of joy

Staff Sgt. Christopher Rivera, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, taps on the nose of a C-130J Super Hercules prior to its takeoff for a training sortie during the 66th Operation Christmas Drop at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 14, 2017. The 33 Airmen provided the necessary maintenance to ensure the aircrews can successfully operate three C-130Js to deliver bundles to Micronesian islanders. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)

Maintainers help aircrews deliver bundles of joy

A crew chief with the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron turns around after marshaling a C-130J Super Hercules prior to its takeoff for a training sortie during the 66th Operation Christmas Drop at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 14, 2017. Every December, Airmen from Yokota head to Andersen AFB. From there, the crews airdrop food, supplies and educational materials to islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)

Maintainers help aircrews deliver bundles of joy

A crew chief with the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron marshals a C-130J Super Hercules prior to its takeoff for a training sortie during the 66th Operation Christmas Drop at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 14, 2017. OCD is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian airlift training operation and will provide nearly 25 tons of critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands this year impacting about 20,000 people. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)

Maintainers help aircrews deliver bundles of joy

Master Sgt. Josh McMahan, 36th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, performs a visual inspection of a C-130J Super Hercules propeller prior to taking off for a training sortie during the 66th Operation Christmas Drop at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 14, 2017. Over the course of 10 days, the aircrews airdrop food, supplies and educational materials to islanders throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas, Federated States of Micronesia, and Republic of Palau. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)

Maintainers help aircrews deliver bundles of joy

Airmen with the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Yokota Air Base Japan push a power unit aside after using it for their inspection before an Operation Christmas Drop sortie at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 14, 2017. The power unit enabled the crew chiefs to perform the necessary maintenance work and inspections inside the aircraft to ensure the aircrew could safely complete their mission. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)

Maintainers help aircrews deliver bundles of joy

Airmen from the 374th Maintenance Group perform a foreign, object and debris walk on the flight line prior to aircraft taking off to deliver bundles to Micronesian islands during the 66th Operation Christmas Drop at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 13, 2017. Aircrews from the U.S. Air Force, Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self Defense Force) and Royal Australian Air Force flew multiple training sorties over the course of 10 days to provide supplies to islanders throughout Micronesia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)

Maintainers help aircrews deliver bundles of joy

Airmen with the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Yokota Air Base, Japan turn on a power unit to provide power to a C-130J Super Hercules during Operation Christmas Drop at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 14, 2017. The power unit enabled the crew chiefs to perform the necessary maintenance work and inspections inside the aircraft to ensure the aircrew could safely complete their mission. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)

Maintainers help aircrews deliver bundles of joy

Staff Sgt. Christopher Rivera, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, places runway tape in front of a C-130J Super Hercules at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 14, 2017. The tape helps ensure the pilots know where to park the aircraft after completing a training sortie for the 66th Operation Christmas Drop. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)

Maintainers help aircrews deliver bundles of joy

Senior Airman Gonzalo Garcia-Rubio, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems journeyman, left, and Senior Airman Bobbie Price 374 AMXS aero repair journeyman, discuss the amount of grease on a part that helps lift the tires into the C-130J Super Hercules at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 14, 2017. A combination of 33 Airmen work around the clock to provide the necessary maintenance to ensure the aircrews can complete their training sorties during the 66th Operation Christmas Drop. (U.S Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. David Owsianka)

Andersen Air Base, Guam --

Four C-130J Super Hercules propellers create a humming sound as they power the aircraft, commonly referred to this time of year as “Santa’s sleigh”, down the runway to deliver bundles of goods to people living on some of the most remote islands in the world during the 66th Operation Christmas Drop at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, from Dec. 9 through Dec. 19, 2017. Flying 3 C-130’s thousands of miles daily does not happen without a team of professionals to keep the sleigh in the air. Airmen from the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work tirelessly around the clock to ensure the aircraft are always mission ready and fully capable.

 

Over the course of 10 days, the maintainers guarantee that the 36th Airlift Squadron crew members could effectively train alongside their Koku Jieitai (Japan Air Self Defense Force) and Royal Australian Air Force partners as they performed Low-Cost Low-Altitude airdrop tactics and procedures over unsurveyed drop zones while providing critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands.

 

“This is a great operation that we do here, and is one of the most rewarding things we do in the Air Force as we keep the planes flying and train as we provide supplies to the islanders,” Master Sgt. Keith Schroeder, 374 AMXS production superintendent. “It was also a great experience working alongside the Koku Jieitai and Australians because we’re able to exchange information and ideas to take back to our home stations.”

 

The maintainers are split into two flights to effectively provide the necessary upkeep on the aircraft night and day. Armed with all of the necessary tools and spare parts, these Santa’s helpers are able to put all of the skills and training they receive at home station to use in a simulated deployed environment. They are on the flightline prior to the plane taking off and there when it lands to inspect it, provide any repairs and ensure it is fueled for the next mission. For many of the maintainers, this mission provides a look at how their efforts directly impact mission accomplishment.

 

“Some of my fellow Airmen are able to see how our job here is away from our home station,” said Senior Airman Austin Endsley, 374 AMXS crew chief. “It’s a little different than being stationed back at Yokota; the mission has to happen here. These people won’t get their packages unless we fix the plane.”

 

Some of the common maintenance work done throughout Operation Christmas Drop include tire changes, pressurization system repairs and inspecting the aircraft’s panels. All of this hard work does not go unnoticed. Many of the maintenance Airmen are offered incentive flights on Santa’s sleigh to see the bundles delivered first-hand.

 

“I had the opportunity to sit on the flight deck as the loadmasters dropped the bundles over the islands,” Endsley said. “It was amazing being able to see all of the people run out as the packages fell toward them.”