JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
The 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Blue Unit at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base provided facilities and services for a detachment of F-16 Fighting Falcons Aug. 14 to 17. The F-16s are assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Eastover, S.C., and on Noble Eagle alert.
Due to a three-night, airfield seizure exercise, the McEntire JNGB airfield was temporarily closed, and the F-16s needed an air base that could support 24-hour operations, seven days a week. Joint Base Charleston was chosen as the closest base meeting the requirements.
"It's not unusual for aircraft from other bases to stop in Charleston. However, for an extended stay, there are a number of logistical requirements that need to be met," said Master Sgt. Radley Green, 437th Blue Unit Aircraft Maintenance mechanical section element leader. "For example, the F-16s require a Joint Oil Analysis Program which is not used on C-17s. The JOAP unit ensures there are no contaminates in the aircraft's oil and must be stored at temperatures below 75 degrees. We had to make arrangements to house that piece of gear while the F-16s were in town."
Green chose two Airmen, Tech. Sgt. Chris Mansfield, 437 AMXS Blue Unit assistant lead technician and Airman 1st Class Andrea Kelly, 437 AMXS Blue Unit crew chief, to help sort out the logistical details.
"Flexibility is the key to air power," said Mansfield. "When a different type of aircraft makes Charleston home, we have to notify the base fire department about the different chemicals the aircraft might have onboard so they are able to fight any fires in case of a mishap. The 437th Operations Support Squadron has to assign parking areas for the aircraft and the 437th Aerial Port Squadron has to be ready to assist with forklifts and personnel if necessary. We also have to take care of the basics, like lodging and food for the pilots and maintenance crews."
"It really was a Wing effort to make this happen," Green said. "After all, Charleston and the Lowcountry are known for their southern hospitality. We want to treat our visitors the same way we expect our aircrews to be treated when they are deployed."
For Kelly, who has only been in the Air Force for a year, the entire evolution has been an eye-opener.
"Preparing for arrival of the F-16s gave me the opportunity to really learn a lot about the way the different units within the wing and on the base interact with each other to get things done," Kelly said. "It was really an eye-opener for me."
The F-16s departed JB CHS - AB and returned to McEntire JNGB Aug. 17.