Feature Search

Munitions Airmen give B-52s their teeth

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Don Perrien
  • 36th Operations Group
According to the Airmen deployed to the 36th Munitions Squadron here at Andersen, a B-52 without weapons is "just another airliner."
As part of the scheduled bomber presence in the Pacific Theater, 32 munitions personnel from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana were sent to Guam in support of the six B-52s deployed to the region. These deployed Airmen augment the 190 other munitions personnel assigned to the squadron, putting weapons on the racks and in the belly of the B-52 Stratofortresses here - transforming them from "just another airliner" into the most versatile weapons platform in the Air Force's inventory.
"We've built a wide variety of munitions for the B-52s since coming over from Louisiana," said Master Sgt. Kelvin Samuel, 36th MUNS superintendent for the Airmen deployed from Barksdale. "We've put together everything from Mk-62 Quickstrike mines, to M-117 general purpose bombs, to GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions for the bombers to drop here."
Of course when working with high-explosive munitions, great care must be taken to prevent needless loss of life and equipment - that focus is a top concern for the deployed MUNS troops.
"Safety is paramount in our mission due to the hazards and industrial environments as well as the explosives being involved," said Sergeant Samuel. "Each individual understands their responsibility when placed on a crew.
"It is not only the crew chief's responsibility to stop an unsafe act, its every individual's responsibility," he said. "Everyone is constantly reminded how important safety is for mission accomplishment and for personnel reliability."
Building on that concept of teamwork and accountability helped frame the mission of the deployed munitions personnel. One of the goals for the Airmen from Barksdale during this rotation was to develop a good working relationship with the other personnel in place here at Andersen.
"The relationship with the permanent-party 36th MUNS personnel has been very important for our mission accomplishment," Sergeant Samuel said. "They've provided us with all the necessary support equipment we've needed to have successful munitions releases from the B-52 bombers here.
"In addition, the deployed personnel for this rotation have really melded the maintenance and munitions missions together," he said. "Together we've developed efforts to integrate weapons operations with sortie generation - producing a near perfect product for the aircrews."
For the Louisiana-based munitions personnel, their time here at Andersen has helped them focus on the importance of the munitions mission, while also providing training opportunities they can't get back home.
"Supporting the rotating bomber commitment is an important part of our mission," said Tech. Sgt. Travis Owens, NCOIC of deployed munitions for the 36th MUNS. "We provide the munitions required for day-today operations - everything from joint training exercises to contingencies.
"One of the best things about being at Andersen is working with our Navy partners as part of the joint mission here," he said. "We've built roughly 500 munitions and naval mines for use working alongside the Navy personnel assigned out here to Guam. This has been a great chance to integrate receive some cross-service training.
In addition to the training opportunities, this deployment has helped the members of the unit better appreciate the teamwork needed to successfully complete their mission, and the unique opportunities that exist in the munitions career field.
"We've all worked together and everyone brought their different skills to help form a really solid team out here," said Senior Airman Daniel Dees, a munitions journeyman with the 36th MUNS. "You really can't accomplish all that we've done out here in building these munitions by being an individual - you have to be part of a team.
"For us, we're like any other Airmen in the Air Force in that we provide a product - it's just that our product is a bomb," Airman Dees said. "That's why munitions is one of the most exciting career fields to work in, because we make things that blow up!"

Social Media