Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wing passes ORI

by Staff Sgt. Kent Kagarise
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/14/2010 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- The 442nd Fighter Wing received a passing grade during the operational readiness inspection July 9-11.

Crews from around the wing worked diligently to save moulage victims, load bombs onto aircraft and maintain situational awareness and readiness at all times.

While medical personnel treated victims with missing limbs and covered in shrapnel, weapons load crews combined passion and skill to load bombs onto the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

Tech. Sgt. Butch Portell, 442nd Maintenance Squadron weapons loader painted a picture of when his crew had to work one-man-short due to simulation input from an inspector and how the crew functioned while in full mission oriented protective posture.

"They sent us another guy who we weren't familiar with to help out since we were down a man," Sergeant Portell said. "He didn't know our body language, which made it difficult because when your team knows each other it's possible to communicate in MOPP 4 without talking."

Tech. Sgt. Dennis Jensen, weapons loader crew chief, is an Airman with ample time under the aircraft and works as a leader to guide his crew.

"Time is our greatest obstacle," Sergeant Jensen said. "At a lot of jobs you can back track if you've made a mistake -- here we only have so much time to load and check weapons systems in order to turn jets."

Time is not the only obstacle these weapons loaders face.

"No doubt about it, this can be a dangerous job," said Tech. Sergeant Hafkey, weapons loader. "We can lose fingers really easily if we aren't careful. If we don't do our job right, bombs may not detonate when they are supposed to, or maybe not at all."

A phase one inspection is tentatively scheduled for fall 2011.


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