BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Massachusetts --
Master Sergeant Ken McElroy, Senior Airman Alec Leavitt and Airman 1st Class Nick Burns, 104th Munitions Flight ordnance mechanics, are members of a munitions team that takes pride in their versatility.
Instead of specializing in just one part of the munitions operation, such as delivering munitions to the flight line, the ordnance mechanics train on all aspects of the mission.
This approach to training has created a team of Airmen capable of supporting their multifaceted mission at the 104th Fighter Wing.
“We have a lot of people here that are knowledgeable in all aspects of the shop,” said Leavitt. “We’re well rounded. Normally we’re equipment maintenance, but we can go down and test missiles and assist in other operations.”
Leavitt said there are nine sections in munitions, including Precision Guided Munitions, inspection, and munitions handling equipment.
“I would feel comfortable sending either one of these guys to any shop to do anything,” said McElroy.
The three Airmen recently worked in PGM and conducted a 60 day inspection on a Captive Air Training Missile 9X-2.
They said the CATM 9X-2 is used almost daily by F-15 Eagles at the 104th FW, and is the primary munition they use in air to air combat. It recently replaced the standard CATM 9X, and provides upgraded capabilities for the F-15s.
Leavitt said that being able to step out of their normal role in equipment maintenance has a direct impact on mission readiness. They were able to validate the serviceability of the missile and pass it for inspection.
“If they don’t pass, we can’t support that side of the mission,” said Leavitt. “They have to pass.”
Burns said he likes being directly involved in the wing’s mission.
“I like going to the flight line and contributing to the mission,” said Burns. “Going out there and supplying the aircraft with what they need to fly every day.”
Being exposed to so many different sections in munitions has also instilled confidence in the Airmen, preparing them for any potential changes to their career field or the mission at the 104th FW, said Leavitt. Any change to the mission will provide an opportunity to learn and do something new and they are ready to work with whatever aircraft eventually replaces the F-15 Eagle, he said.
“Whether we get F-35s or the F-15X, it’s going to create and air to ground mission for us,” said Leavitt. “That would pretty much create a whole new part of our shop that deals with just bombs. That whole aspect is something to look forward to. It’s what you sign up for.”