SOUTHWEST ASIA -- Air National Guardsmen assigned to the 386th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here are undergoing a transition during their deployment here.
These Airmen deployed from the 103rd and 145th Airlift Wings, from Connecticut and North Carolina respectively, have come together to maintain the C-130H Hercules cargo aircraft.
The desert assignment is Connecticut’s first time being deployed with the airframe while for North Carolina, it is last time it will deploy to maintain the Hercules.
“We are new. We did A-10’s before this,” said Tech. Sgt. Chad Wink, a 386 EAMXS engine mechanic. “It’s our first deployment with the C-130’s and their last deployment with the C-130’s.”
“A lot of us are just learning the C-130 because it’s our first deployment with the bird,” said Wink. “It’s nice to partner up with another unit that’s had them for a long time.”
The job of maintaining the C-130H Hercules is one piece of the puzzle in the Air Force’s fight against ISIS. This aircraft supports critical missions by deliveries cargo and personnel downrange supporting critical missions.
“We just keep the planes flying,” said Staff Sgt. James Srackangast, 386 EAMXS crew chief. “You actually feel the pride of helping defeat ISIS, dropping the equipment off and getting to the guys who are out there on the ground.”
Even in the excitement of supporting the fight against ISIS, Wink said that maintainers often face lots of different operational challenges that come in the way of maintaining the aircraft.
“It’s a remote location, so it’s hard to get all the parts we need,” said Wink. “The environment, it’s a very rough environment for the engines and you really have to keep on top of them to make sure they are not ingesting to much dirt. We have to keep everything clean.”
Wink said that he is proud to have volunteered for the deployment and looks forward to helping future deployers from Connecticut.
“We are going to go home with all that knowledge. People who haven’t been here are going to be looking at us,” said Wink. “Hopefully we are setting standard for the next deployment.”