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NEWS | May 15, 2013

The mission keeps rolling at JB Charleston

By Airman 1st Class Tom Brading Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Every day, rain or shine, the 437th Maintenance Squadron at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base goes the extra mile to keep aircraft safely in the sky, but one shop makes sure they roll safely on the ground. And, without reinventing the wheel, these Airmen and civilians focus on the foundational aspect of the aircraft: the wheels and tires.
On average, the shop changes out and repairs 2,000 aircraft tires a year.
The Airmen and civilians of the 437th MXS Repair and Reclamation shop are dedicated to ensuring the wheels and tires of JB Charleston's 51-strong C-17 Globemaster III fleet keep the mission rolling. They accomplish this by constant maintenance, evaluations and scheduled refurbishments of the 437th Airlift Wing's C-17s' wheels and tires.

"Our shop conducts primarily heavy maintenance on the C-17," said Master Sgt. Robert Wilkinson, 437th Maintenance Squadron repair and reclamation section chief . "Not only are we repairing the aircraft flight controls, landing gear, door systems and rebuilding tires, we are also trained and prepared to conduct aircraft crash recovery at short notice."

The 437th MXS Repair and Reclamation shop is trained and equipped to be dispatched at short notice to crash sites for aircraft recovery.

"We aid support to the Charleston International Airport, North Auxiliary Field and when it comes to our inventory, we've deployed to Southwest Asia to provide maintenance support and assisting in getting our aircraft mission ready," said Wilkinson. "Once we're at the sight, we're able to access the damage, then depending on the damage get the aircraft ready to be removed from location and repaired." 

Due to the heavy workload, the Airmen and civilians must work as a group.

"We are averaging two aircraft per one Airman in our shop," said Wilkinson. "This is because of the number of Airmen and civilians we have maintaining volume of inventory. Due to this, along with the mission demands, we are working around the clock."

Training to become a repair and reclamation specialist begins at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. However, it's not until Airmen arrive at JB Charleston that they can take specialized training on flight controls and maintenance aircraft doors. But according to Wilkinson, the majority of learning happens with on-the-job training.

"It takes an Airman roughly two years to understand all the tasks and scenarios that may come their way," said Wilkinson. "But, we want our Airmen to be ready for anything, so we're constantly training them, so when those moments happen, they're ready."

According to Wilkinson, before the airlift mission even leaves the Lowcountry, the tires play the first step in providing airlift support to the warfighter. Without the consistent work from this small group of Airmen and civilians, the impact on the mission would be substantial.

"Our leadership makes sure we're capable to take on the mission at a successful level with corrected, balanced oversight," said Wilkinson. "We're ready at a moment's notice to be anywhere in the world we're needed and it's a testament to not only the 437th MXS leadership, but also the Airmen I work with every day."