JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
The 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron grooms some of the most prolific C-17 maintainers and crew chiefs in the Air Mobility Command. In an incentive to further enhance their mission efficiency, a pre-existing identifier, Dedicated Crew Chief, has been brought back to the forefront of their culture.
Crew chiefs are responsible for the maintenance and safety of an aircraft. They are technically proficient in most, if not all, aspects of aircraft maintenance and work with specialized maintainers to keep aircraft flying and mission capable. Dedicated Crew Chiefs are different because they are assigned to one particular aircraft.
"A Dedicated Crew Chief is expected to know our particular aircraft inside and out," said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Drakos, 437th AMXS crew chief. "We know the history of the aircraft and recognize patterns or nuances that are much more in depth than someone not assigned to the aircraft."
A DCC is typically a designation given to senior crew chiefs that have seen a lot, and gained enough experience to recognize issues which they have solved before, and mentor other crew chiefs on solving new issues.
Drakos has been a C-17 aircraft maintainer for 15 years. During that time he has deployed to Al Udeid, Afghanistan, Iraq and Turkey. Drakos was recognized as a DCC during a ceremony June 2012. He was awarded a gray flight suit and a specially designed patch, the identifier for a DCC in the 437th AMXS.
"Every C-17 at Joint Base Charleston has a DCC assigned to it," said Drakos. "We take a lot of pride in our aircraft. Crew chiefs get a lot of tech training. All of our crew chiefs know the separation between a good crew chief and a great crew chief is the initiative to get out there and learn not just your job, but the other specialist's jobs on your plane. The more you know of the bigger picture, the better you can identify what shape the plane is in. But ultimately, earning the identifier of DCC comes down to experience."
The 437th AMXS wants the DCC program to assist their current efforts to mold future DCCs, excellent crew chiefs and maintainers.
"We wanted the ceremony and uniforms to revitalize the DCC program," said Master Sgt. William Henke, 437th AMXS Section Chief. "We want to use the old blood to build and train the new blood.
Identifying and empowering senior technicians came with a responsibility that the DCCs are definitely willing to accept.
"There are great Airmen in the squadron," said Drakos. "As a noncommissioned officer, I can look at our Airmen and truly believe that I am very lucky to work with these great Airmen.
"The Airmen are definitely the true backbone of this flightline. They are out here getting their hands dirty. My job now is to take all my knowledge and pass the torch on so they may do the job and then pass it on to following generations."
The men and women who maintain the 437 Airlift Wing's C-17s ensure JB Charleston's flying mission readiness by working together, to include maintenance specialists, Aircraft Terminal Operations Center personnel, and other supporters of flightline operations.
"It's definitely a big team effort," said Drakos. "It takes everyone out there, not just AMXS, to make it happen."