August 2, 2017 (by SSgt. Heather Heiney) - Dozens of Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 913th Maintenance Squadron out of Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, have spent the past few weeks here at Keesler Air Force Base working on the 403rd Wing’s fleet of C-130J and WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft.
Members of the 913th MXS from Little Rock AFB work together with members of the 803rd AMXS to hook up C-130J-30 #05-8152 to be towed to the wash rack July 21, 2017 at Keesler AFB, Mississippi. [USAF photo by SSgt. Heather Heiney]
"We're here for proficiency training and to work with all aspects of the maintenance group and it happens to assist with Keesler's current need with their hurricane mission," said Senior Master Sgt. Cathryn Rock, 913th MXS flight chief. "Our guys are out there doing launches, recovery, servicing aircraft and helping in the isochronal inspection dock."
"Over the past two weeks the Airmen from the 913th MXS … have made invaluable contributions maintaining the health of the 403rd Maintenance Groups' 20 C-130J aircraft," Horton said. "They have been fully integrated into all work centers of the 403rd Maintenance Group, providing sortie generation, back-shop support, isochronal inspections and staff support. The Airmen of the 913th MXS have been working alongside and partnering with Keesler Airmen, contributing to over 350 maintenance actions in a two-week period."
Rock said for many of the 913th members this is their first time off station doing longer-term work.
"It's been a great opportunity to work with other Airmen and get a flavor of how they do things," said Senior Airman David Roby, 913th MXS crew chief.
"The 403rd Wing and the 913th Airlift Group are the only two units in AFRC with a C-130J combat mission. It's imperative that the two maintenance units work together for increased Air Force Specialty Code-specific proficiencies and to increase the mission capability of Keesler's aircraft," said Maj. Brian Horton, 803rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander. "Our goal with this endeavor is to train Airmen, work airplanes, but most importantly to build relationships. We can build on these relationships to provide a more robust group of trained maintainers with the sole purpose of answering the call of the combatant commanders."
Unlike the three maintenance squadrons that fall under the 403rd Maintenance Group, the 913th MXS doesn't have any of its own equipment or aircraft because it falls under the 913th Airlift Group, which is an associate unit to the 19th Airlift Wing. All of the C-130J aircraft and maintenance equipment there belongs to the 19th AW, which is an active duty unit.
"Not having our own aircraft can make it challenging at times, but we're always ready to work whenever we're called," Rock said.
She also said that coming to Keesler not only gives the members and opportunity to work with an operational Air Force Reserve unit, it gives them the opportunity to work with people who have years of knowledge about the C-130J. Active duty members at Little Rock transition frequently, which often means the knowledge they gain goes with them. The 403rd Wing was one of the first units in the total force to receive the J-model aircraft and several members have been with the unit since before the transition.
"Subject matter experts here are oozing with knowledge and they want to teach," Rock said. "It's a strong dynamic with some older technicians who have been doing this a long time."
While they are here as part of their annual training, the work they are doing has helped keep the 403rd's aircraft mission-ready.
"Their timing couldn't be better. Our tempo right now is pretty high, the 913th has been a huge asset. Their attitude and ability has been top notch," said Senior Master Sgt. Scott Rountree, 803rd AMXS sortie generation flight chief. "The Little Rock maintainers came here to get some training but have more than held their own here and have seamlessly filled in on some of our shortfalls due to manning. We actually have a Little Rock technician on the hook in the event of a hurricane tasking and some of the Airmen have extended their tours to help us out. I personally believe this has been great for both of us, and I would like to see more in the future. The 913th is always welcome here."
"Working with the 403rd has been a valuable experience for our Airmen and we hope to continue this relationship in the future," Rock said.