by Staff Sgt. Ted Daigle
307th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Browning, 917th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, pushes a tank of liquid oxygen to a waiting A-10 Thunderbolt II in preparation for a sortie during the Rim of the Pacific military exercise at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 17, 2012. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC exercise from June 29 to Aug. 3, in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The world's largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world's oceans. RIMPAC 2012 is the 23rd exercise in the series that began in 1971. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ted Daigle) Hi-res
7/23/2012 - Barksdale AFB, La. -- A bright Hawaiian sun rises over the peaks of Oahu into a clear blue sky, but Staff Sgt. Justin Browning, 917th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, has no time to enjoy the site as he is already hard at work preparing an A-10 Thunderbolt II for a mid-morning mission at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Browning walks on, under and around the jet checking for any visible problems, inspecting the engines and preparing for the time when the aircraft will be called into action. As he dons his protective gear, he provides the plane with enough liquid oxygen necessary for the mission. One final walk around and Browning is ready to go.
The pilot arrives, greets Browning and they begin the final checks before take-off. After several hours of quick-paced preparation, the A-10 pulls off, leaving Browning with a smile and sense of satisfaction of a job well done.
Browning is one of 25,000 personnel participating in the Rim of the Pacific exercise in and around the Hawaiian Island June 29 through Aug. 3, 2012.
For Browning, working with the aircraft is a labor of love, and the Air Force is in his blood. He joined the Air Force at the age of 18 after hearing stories from a great uncle who served. The ensuing12 years have been adventurous and fulfilling for Browning.
After completing tech school, his love of aircraft and flying compelled him to seek a degree in commercial aviation from Louisiana Tech University. That same commitment continues to drive him to volunteer for every deployment he can, even as he juggles his family life and his civilian job as an oil and gas engineer.
"I joined the Air Force to help out and my civilian employer is very supportive, so volunteering just makes sense," said Browning.
Capt. Brian Plauche, 917th MXS operations officer, believes crew chiefs like Browning are instrumental to the success of the unit.
"Sergeant Browning is always ready and he is very knowledgeable, the two things you need in a good reservist," he said.
All the deployments have created some lasting memories for Browning.
During one Hawg Smoke competition the rain poured down the entire time, challenging Browning to accomplish the mission.
"It was like a monsoon and the rain of the flight line was two to three inches deep, at times," he said. "We stopped calling it Hawg Smoke and started calling it Hawg Wash."
Volunteering for service in Afghanistan proved to be another memorable experience. Browning left behind his wife, a newborn son and his civilian job to help with that mission. He spent five months there accomplishing the mission, in spite of adverse conditions and routine rocket fire directed at his base.
All the experiences have left Browning eager to continue his service and hopeful he can pass his legacy on to his young son.
"I want to complete 30 years in the Air Force Reserve, and I hope my son will join one day and do what I did," he said.
A few hours after taking off, the A-10 lands, the pilot having completed his sortie. Tomorrow, it will be need to be ready to fly again, and Browning will be there, like he always is, to make sure it happens.
U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Justin Browning, 917th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, conducts a pre-flight inspection of an A-10 Thunderbolt II in preparation for a sortie during the Rim of the Pacific military exercise at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, July 17, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Ted Daigle) Hi-res
Note: Pictured is A-10C 79-0147 from the 47th Fighter Squadron.
Note: Maj. Maury Kent is a 47th Fighter Squadron pilot.
Source (including 3 photos)