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NEWS | Sept. 19, 2007

Munitions flight is the bomb

By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Pilch 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Despite all rumors, the fenced-in area behind the softball fields is not, and never has been a minimum-security prison. The area is on the other hand, a high-security area storing nine million dollars worth of ammunition and munitions.

The 437th Maintenance Squadron Munitions Flight is responsible for the accountability, requisitioning, receiving, inspecting, storage, maintenance and delivery of all base munitions to more than 44 customers within the 437th and 315th Airlift Wings.

The munitions flight provides complete round countermeasure flares for C-17 Aerial Defense Systems for the aircraft. Courtesy storage for ammunition is provided to 30 custody accounts and to supply mobility for base weapons. The flight is located in the 900 area near the small arms firing range on Charleston AFB and consists of five 30-bay munitions storage buildings containing more than 19,000 different types of munitions for both operational and exercise requirements.

"We are tasked with a lot of requests for munitions because of our excessive stockpile," said Master Sgt. Troy Spencer, 437 MXS Munitions Flight superintendent. "We stay busy because of our large amount of shipments in support of the Global War on Terrorism. We keep our Airmen and C-17s on Charleston taken care of."

Among other bases, Charleston's stockpile is the largest in Air Mobility Command.

"One of the coolest things about our job at Charleston is we get to coordinate with manufacturers and receive Joint Direct Attack Munitions," said Sergeant Spencer. "We were also the first AMC base to build the new flair cocktail, which is a combo flair that provides more protection in theater."

Along with having perks like dealing with JDAM, the team has to deal with many dangers.

"Our career field is a very dangerous field," said Master Sgt. John Brautigam, 437 MXS Munitions Flight chief. "If you continually worry and show the proper respect for the munitions you're around, you're safe. But the second you get comfortable and careless, you will be jeopardizing your life and the Airmen around you. Fortunately, Charleston has been mishap-free thanks to our Airmen and the hard work they do every day."

The Airmen in the munitions flight are hard workers and continue to be consistent with the workflow of Charleston, said Sergeant Brautigam.

"We have great Airmen and they work until the job is done," said Sergeant Brautigam. "Some days when the Airmen come in at 6 a.m. and are told at noon we will be staying till 6 p.m., typically Airmen complain, but these Airmen don't. They have a big responsibility level coming right out of tech school and that keeps them focused in this career field."

Besides keeping munitions for the C-17s and security forces, the munitions flight also stores items found by the 437th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal.

"One of the strangest items we have in our storage area is a small amount of World War I grenades," said Staff Sgt. Sam Kunz, 437 MXS Munitions Flight munitions system craftsman. "Most of the time, EOD is called in to look at a piece of ammo that someone has found. If it can be moved from its current location, they bring it to us to store it until it can be disposed of properly if it can't be moved, EOD detonates it."

Being in the munitions career field, the team faces deployments just like other Airmen to help support the war on terror, but they also focus on taking care of each other and their families.

"I really enjoy being in ammo," said Sergeant Kunz. "We are a close-knit family and we take care of each other. When our Airmen deploy, we take care of each other's yards, dorm rooms and each others families."