News>Feature - Stand and deliver: Dispatch Airmen provide vital equipment
A C-130 Hercules, taxis across the flightline on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Dec. 11. The 2nd Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment flight provides much needed equipment for a variety of airframes, some of which is critical for take-off. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Moua)
Senior Airman Jason McNew, 2nd Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment flight Support, Pick-up, Delivery and Servicing section, performs a service inspection on a New Generation Heater on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Dec. 11. Before transporting equipment to and from the flightline, service inspections are performed on each piece of equipment to guarantee they are in proper working order. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Andrew Moua)
by Airman 1st Class Andrew Moua
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
12/13/2012 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Through the night and into the early morning hours, Barksdale's flightline never truly sleeps. For B-52H Stratofortress bombers to take off, they need ground maintainers to assist, and those maintainers require the right equipment in a timely manner.
The 2nd Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment flight Support, Pick-up, Delivery and Servicing section form the vital link in the maintenance chain by providing the means to get equipment where it needs to go.
"When someone needs equipment, we get it to them," said Staff Sgt. Andrew Nichols, 2 MXS AGE flight SPUDS section. "We provide flightline assistance by delivering equipment and performing small maintenance actions, such as refilling hydraulic fluid or oil changes."
The daily routine for SPUDS involves inspecting trucks Airmen use to tow equipment, and awaiting equipment requests from crew chiefs and other maintainers. As soon as a call goes out, the rush to deliver equipment begins.
AGE is split between the 20th Bomb Squadron, 96 BS and wing AGE. Each section is assigned its own drivers who deliver equipment to their respective squadrons.
"We normally have three drivers per section who are responsible for bringing AGE to and from the flightline," said Senior Airman Jason McNew, 2nd Aerospace Ground Equipment flight SPUDS section. "They perform service inspections before and after equipment is used, and are able to perform quick fixes to restore equipment to working order. The real difference is with wing AGE. The equipment under that section is for use under the commander's discretion, and can be used as a stop-gap to heat or cool buildings until specialists arrive to fix the problem."
With personnel on deployments and temporary duties, the section has less people in a career field with ever increasing demands. Despite the low number of personnel, the section strives hard to accomplish its mission.
"We're currently down to two drivers per section," said McNew. "It makes more of a difference than you'd think, one person from one section might not be a big deal, but taking away one from each section hits us hard."
Although it may seem like the section is a self-contained towing company, the impact is much larger than one would think.
"I love this job and all its different aspects, even though its gets a bit hectic at times," said McNew. "I can go to work and come back knowing that I directly helped that jet take off, and that's enough for me to be satisfied. Hearing the crew chiefs call over the comms tells us that we're important and vital to the mission."
Overall, the SPUDS section stands as the vital link between an aircraft in the air and one on the ground, and the hard working men and women are among the best of 2 MXS.
"They're the hardest working guys I've seen," said Nichols. "It's hard work, plain and simple. These guys work day in and day out, skip breaks and lunch just to get the job done. The mission's not going to wait for us."