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36th MXS AGE proves there’s no airpower without ground power
Airman 1st Class Andrew Caprio, 3rd Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight journeyman, replaces fuel lines on a munitions handling unit used for B-52 Stratofortress maintenance at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Oct. 30, 2012. Airman Caprio is deployed to Andersen from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos/Released)
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36th MXS AGE proves there’s no airpower without ground power

Posted 11/5/2012   Updated 11/5/2012 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

11/5/2012 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- As exercises, evacuations and day-to-day operations keep the Andersen flightline busy, the Airmen of the 36th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment flight overcome a demanding work schedule and workload on a daily basis.

AGE provides support for the aircraft when it is on the ground. Maintenance units use AGE to conduct maintenance work on the aircraft and run aircraft systems when the it is parked on the flightline.

"It saves money and is more reliable to use our equipment to run and perform maintenance on aircraft systems than to use the aircraft's own multi-million dollar systems," said Master Sgt. Brian Cudnik, 36th MXS AGE flight chief. "If our systems go down, it's easier and costs less to fix or replace them."

With a total force of more than 50 Airmen assigned to maintain more than 700 pieces of equipment, AGE runs a shop that is on 24/7 operations, 365 days a year.

"We have about 30 Airmen assigned to our flight and we're currently getting tremendous support from Airmen deployed from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and Barksdale Air Force Base, La.," said Sergeant Cudnik.

Even though Andersen does not have a permanent aircraft unit, AGE Airmen are always on the go, catering to the maintenance equipment needs of deployed and transient aircraft, along with other units on the base.

"The reason why we have AGE here, despite the fact that we do not have a permanent aircraft unit, is that transient and deployed units need our equipment to launch out of here," said Sergeant Cudnik.

The AGE flight supports the bombers, fighters, Global Hawk Detachment, Air Mobility Command, the Marines, the Navy and other units that bring aircraft to the Andersen flightline. The flight also supports 36th Security Forces Squadron, 36th Munitions Squadron and other units on base in their equipment needs.

The workload in supporting all these units is divvied up into four sections within the AGE flight: production support section, bomber and Global Hawk section, wing section and War Reserve Materiel section.

Productions support provides the AGE maintainers all the vital equipment, tools and tech data they may need to work on the equipment. The section also runs the safety program and all other major programs that keep AGE operational.

The bomber and Global Hawk section support the expeditionary bomber units that rotate out of Andersen AFB and the Global Hawk Detachment by providing them with aircraft jacks, generators and other generalized equipment they need to maintain their aircraft.

"Our section has a large number of equipment that requires on-schedule maintenance," said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Tombre, 36th MXS AGE bomber and Global Hawk section noncommissioned officer in charge. "We also dispatch the equipment to the flightline and come out to do quick fixes as required. Right now, we have several airmen that are supporting the B-52 Stratofortresses out on the ramp."

The section also accepts all the AGE maintainers deployed with the bomber squadron rotation.

"The challenging part is that they are only here for a limited amount of time, and it takes time for them to get accustomed to the shop and our procedures," said Senior Airman Justin Mayo, 36th MXS AGE flight bomber and Global Hawk section journeyman. The important thing is finding the areas they are strong in and placing them in those areas. Usually, once people get acclimated, everything else goes smoothly."

The wing section supports the Air Mobility Command, tanker task force, the fighters and 36th Wing units that need to use available equipment.

"We cater to both flying and non-flying units, which make us busy," said Tech. Sgt. Dewey Riden 36th, MXS AGE flight wing section noncommissioned officer in charge. "It's not an easy workload, but we schedule and plan accordingly to make sure we can assist everyone."

Some of the aircraft the wing section supports have specialized equipment needs. In those cases, the aircraft unit brings their own maintenance crew and their specialized equipment. In such cases, Sergeant Riden takes this as a learning opportunity for his Airmen.

"The fighters bring their own people, especially when they need to utilize specialized equipment for maintenance," said Sergeant Riden. "Given the chance, I let the Airmen learn to operate or maintain them because even though specialized equipment has its quirks, they don't get to work on such equipment on a daily basis and it's a good learning opportunity."

The WRM section has all types of AGE in their section, but most of them are in storage. This is equipment that is ready for dispatch at a moment's notice to support operations and exercises.

"The Vast majority of equipment comes from WRM," said Tech. Sgt. Ben Peredo, 36th MXS AGE flight WRM section noncommissioned officer in charge. "We also support the Marine Aviation Training Relocation and major exercises like Cope North and Valiant Shield. It's all ready and available for their use."

Since everything is already stored and ready in the WRM section, if there's a shortage on any of the other sections, the WRM section is authorized to provide assistance.

With a multitude of units to support and a plethora of equipment to maintain, the Airmen accomplish their tasks and understand the importance of their role.

"Every day we have to hit the ground running," said Airman Mayo. "I learned, especially here, that if I don't do my job, I'm a weak link in the chain. There is an ongoing mission out there that we support each and every day. Numbers aside, we need to make sure that all the equipment works and that we get the equipment out there on time."

With the U.S. Department of Defense's focus shifting to the Asia-Pacific region and the Andersen flightline bustling with operational activity or exercises, AGE Airmen continue providing well-maintained ground equipment to users on the flightline and around base.

"This is a very unique base; its mission is ever-evolving," said Sergeant Cudnik. "We are the farthest reach of sovereign territory in the West; the farthest that U.S. aircraft can land without having to go through rigorous and time-consuming approval processes. That's why we're always ready. When these units arrive, our hard-working Airmen out on the floor will provide them with top-notch equipment to assist them in making the mission happen. I appreciate what our Airmen do, and they deserve more recognition than what I can give them."

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