An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

NEWS | March 20, 2013

ELEN Airmen electrify JB Charleston

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

Every day, C-17 Globemaster IIIs fire up their engines and ascend through the skies, conducting rapid airlift missions around the world. In its 20 years of service the C-17 has delivered aid, wounded warriors and also supported ongoing combat operations. The plane itself is a technological marvel packed with miles of wire transmitting electricity to thousands of sensors and hundreds of switches, dials and indicators. Keeping these advanced aircraft functional requires dedicated Airmen.

Each volt of electricity coursing through those miles of wires serves a crucial purpose to the overall mission. But when electrical components break down or lose power, there is a group of electrifying Airmen and civilians who not only know what all those sensors and dials and indicators do, they also know how to repair them when they break.

The 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 437th Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Electrical and Environmental Systems specialists may work at different locations on Joint Base Charleston - Air Base, but their mission is similar.

Both units are vital to mission success by ensuring the aircraft is reliable, ready for anything, and the pilots and crew are safe. The electrical aspect covers everything from the miles of wiring to the lighting panels, while the environmental component maintains and repairs the heating and air cooling systems.

When components need to be repaired, they're sent to the 437th MXS back shop, where Airmen and civilians apply their training and skills, performing maintenance on lighting equipment, motors, batteries, anti-icing controllers, caution and warning panels and many other parts.

"In the back shop, we primarily do in-shop repair of the aircraft," said Harry Leming, 437th MXS ELEN shop foreman. A retired Air Force master sergeant, Leming is a 38-year ELEN employee at JB Charleston. "It's challenging work, but as an electrician, it's rewarding to be able to troubleshoot electrical problems."

According to Leming, ELEN Airmen also routinely assist in other shops.

"When specialists in shops like hydraulics, fuels and avionics need electrical or environmental assistance, they call us," said Leming. "It's a team effort that gets those planes in the sky and every member of the team plays a big part."

In addition, each C-17 at JB Charleston is routinely inspected every 120 days by 437th MXS ELEN Airmen to ensure corrective actions are taken when there is an electrical problem, and electrical and environmental components of the aircraft are in compliance with Air Force technical directives.

The 437th AMXS ELEN Airmen do a similar job, however, the structure and routine isn't as controlled as it is in the back shop. On the flight line, anything can happen.

"One thing I've learned on the flight line is to be prepared for anything," said Senior Airman Stephen Razis, 437th AMXS ELEN specialist. "You never know what to expect throughout the day, and that's what I prepare for. The mission relies on our job performance, so knowing every aspect and detail of the job keeps the planes in the sky."

From the MXS back shop to the AMXS flight line, ELEN Airmen bring more to the fight than most know.

"Every time an aircraft leaves JB Charleston, I know one of our Airmen was instrumental in ensuring it takes off," said Tech. Sgt. John Lapinski, 437th MXS ELEN section chief. "Having a hand in that is incredibly rewarding."