NEWS | Jan. 21, 2015

Behind the scenes with AFE

By Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

No flightsuit is complete without an aviator helmet, and every pilot and loadmaster needs one. 

Every service member is important to the mission and one Airman who works in the 437th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment is a shining example to all those around him.

Staff Sgt. Shawn Nyer, NCO in charge of the Aviator Helmet and Mask section of AFE, is doing his part of keeping aircrew members safe and keeping the mission going. Nyer and four other Airmen ensure the equipment, which is essential to every flying mission at Joint Base Charleston, is running at optimal performance.

Nyer is also in charge of supervising Airmen straight out of technical training and teaching them the ropes to handle the duties necessary to ensure aviator helmets and masks are mission ready to keep Airmen alive.

"Some people think we just clean masks and helmets with an alcohol wipe and call it a day with our inspections," said Nyer. "That is completely inaccurate. Our section handles more than 100 helmet inspections a week, which includes breaking down the equipment with proper tools, inspecting every part to include cables and tubes and fixing anything wrong with the equipment.

For a seasoned veteran, just taking apart a helmet takes about an hour and we have to inspect helmets every 90 days. We are definitely a popular shop around base with more than 1,000 crew members coming in."

According to Nyer, the aviator helmet and mask section is one of the most important aspects of AFE and keeping the flying mission at JB Charleston alive.

"Aviator helmets have been around since before World War I, and technological advances have made them more than just a piece of leather on top of a pilot's head," Nyer said. "They are used to protect an aviator's head from loose objects in flight, they are affixed with Night Vision Goggles, which maximize the capabilities of flying in low-light tactical situations and they also provide an aviator with communication devices to talk to other aircrew members or even troops on the ground.

When an aviator is using one of these capabilities, it is important for the equipment to function. I love my job because I know we do it well and we take care of those in-flight who are taking care of someone else, whether it's an aeromedical evacuation or a dropping off of supplies mission."

Nyer is less than 6 feet tall, but according to the Airmen who work with him, the protective NCO turns into a giant when it comes to safeguarding his wingmen.

"Staff Sergeant Nyer always has my back, no matter what the situation entails," said Airman 1st Class Veronica Sabo, an AFE apprentice. "He is an inspiration to all the younger Airmen by always being motivated. He doesn't just care about me as an Airman; he also cares about me as a person."

When not at work, Nyer enjoys his time off with his family. He is married and has two children and his favorite thing to do is spend quality time outdoors with his family. He loves to fish, hike and hunt.

Nyer has been in the Air Force for 12 years and is scheduled to deploy for the seventh time.

"Deployments have become a part of life for me and my family," Nyer said. "I'm grateful to serve my nation and I'm grateful I enjoy what I do. I work with some pretty amazing Airmen and I have a family who means the world to me. Although I'm not looking forward to being away from my family at home and at work, I am looking forward to playing a bigger role in a global mission."