Dragons: 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
By Maj. Bryan Florio, 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander
/ Published April 13, 2018
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --
Dragons … death from above!! Is the over-powering cry you hear when a member of the 509th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s name is announced at any wing function. Why are we so loud and proud? I’m glad you asked.
Our unit patch has rich heritage and lineage. Our maintainers have been supporting the “air breathing” strategic mission in some form or fashion since 1945. The left facing arrow, harkens back to the 509th Composite Group’s tail flash and motto, which was “Follow Us, Follow Us as we usher in the Nuclear Age.”
The blue background represents the sky the B-2 Spirit seemingly glides through after we pour hours and hours of blood, sweat and tears, culminating with a thumbs up and salute to those flying it. The yellow and red shield equally divided, shows how the squadron’s flights are aligned to support the combat coded squadrons.
Originally, those squadrons were the 393d Bomb Squadron (gold) and the 325th Bomb Squadron (red). Around 2005, the 325th moved over as the Weapons School Squadron, and the “Devil’s Own” 13th replaced it. The crossed bombs and wrenches, is an over-simplification of our actual mission; generate world-wide combat capability by planning and executing all aspects of on-aircraft maintenance, weapons loading, launch and recovery for the Air Force’s premier bomber.
Lastly, the words “keepers of the spirit” make up the bottom portion of the patch. The official definition of a keeper is a person who manages or looks after something or someone.
Our definition is a bit different. We look after the aircraft, tending to its “care and feeding” at all hours of the day or night, no matter the weather. Ensuring every bomb loaded is ready to make its mark on whatever our target is. Verifying every system is working as it should, and seamlessly integrated with every other system to, at the command of the aircrew, barrel down the runway and fly off to conduct its mission. Those pilots are our responsibility as well, and according to the old flying adage, takeoffs are optional, landings are not, we are ultimately responsible for all maintenance actions on every aircraft that flies.
After we have one last look over the aircraft we sign our names in the aircraft forms saying the maintenance performed on this aircraft is in accordance with technical data, and it is a safe, reliable aircraft, ready for flight. Even then our job is not done. We wait for the aircraft to return, we look over it again, get it ready for another mission, should it be called to, and after that, we finally take a rest. That is our definition of keepers of the spirit.
So why Dragons? I have looked and I can’t find the why, but this is what I like to think. According to folklore, Dragons fly and breathe fire. If they fly at night no one knows they are there until they torch you with fire. How do we employ the B-2? Usually at night, and you won’t know we’re there until after the night sky lights up with our fire, and the men and women of the 509th AMXS stand ready to make that happen, day or night, rain or shine to rain death from above!