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Maintenance unit keeps bombers in skies

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jennifer Redente
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
The 509th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit provided support to four B-2 Spirits flying more than 700 hours in approximately 100 days including nine, 24-hour flights.

Nearly 100 Airmen, trained in specialties from countermeasures to low observables, preserve the bombers in order to support the Continuous Bomber Presence here.

"We are here to continually give a bomber presence to keep stability in the region and to let adversaries know we can strike from anywhere at any given time," said Tech. Sgt. Timothy L. Humerickhouse, 509th EAMXU specials expeditor and communications navigation lead technician.

With each deployment there are test and triumphs, and there were several for the Airmen maintaining the bombers, which first took flight in July 17, 1989.

"One of the big challenges we have experienced while ... here is spare parts," Sergeant Humerickhouse said. "As a jet gets older, manufacturers quit making spare parts, so we have to deal with having to figure out how to get the planes in the air without brand new parts that are no longer available."

Not only is it difficult to obtain replacement parts when they are no longer being made, but when the 509th EAMXU is able to order a part, it can take time to reach the island.

"Some of the challenges of being deployed with the B-2s are because it's a unique system," said Tech. Sgt. David T. Rohde, 509th EAMXU aircraft section expeditor. "Obviously, we have a high demand on parts, and the four-day travel getting parts over here doesn't make our job any easier."

Despite the challenges, the Airmen have accomplished numerous goals, which include younger Airmen gaining more knowledge and experience.

"We brought a lot of young Airmen, and they gained valuable training firsthand on exercises and real world situations," said Master Sgt. Robert C. Weber, 509th EAMXU air power ground flight chief and crew chief flight chief. 

Sergeant Weber is one of seven Guardsmen from the 131st Bomb Wing who integrated with the 509th EAMXU for the deployment.

"This is the first time the Guard has deployed with the 509th EAMXU, and it was an opportunity for the Guardsmen to integrate with the active duty, and that really worked out well," he said.

The specialists who work on the aircraft have not only made accomplishments for their unit, but have also assisted the pilots in achieving certain goals while deployed here.

Thirty-six pilots were combat-ready certified in less than four months, Sergeant Rohde said.

In addition to the CBP mission, Andersen also hosts to Theater Security Package, which the F-22 Raptors fall under. Maintainers from both aircraft were afforded the opportunity to tour the different aircrafts.

"We had the F-22s deployed here with us, and we had a lot of stealth integration," Sergeant Humerickhouse said. "It helped our ops guys out quite a bit.

"The nice thing was most of us had never had a chance to check out an F-22, and they had never been up to see a B-2," he said. "A lot of their technical data and equipment is a little more advanced, but they could actually see where their equipment originated from. It was a great opportunity."

The 509th EAMXU will soon be redeploying as their replacements begin to arrive.

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