LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --
Approximately 130 Reserve Citizen Airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, made a trip to the desert to visit their brothers in the ‘Valley of the Sun,’ here Sept. 7 – 9.
The 414th Fighter Group, a geographically separated unit of the 944th Fighter Wing, flew in two F-15 Eagles and three KC-135 tankers filled with Airmen eager for some off-station annual tour training with their 944th counterparts. The majority of the passengers were F-15 maintenance Airmen, NCO’s, and senior NCO’s.
“This was breaking new ground for us,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Jensenius, 414th Maintenance Squadron superintendent. “We [414th FG] have never done anything like this before. Bringing that many folks out here, we had to make sure everything was taken care of to get everyone from point A to B.”
The 944th welcomed their GSU over the scheduled unit training assembly and arranged for them to observe F-16 maintenance, F-35 Lightning II engine runs and witness crew chief and avionics daily maintenance. They also got to see a static load display and get a first-hand look at troops loading weapons on an F-35 as well as other processes.
“I think it is very beneficial for them to see a different place, unit, aircraft, as well as different people,” said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Jagodzinski, 944th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-35 section chief. “If we took our people to one of our GSU’s to see what they do over a UTA weekend, I think it would be a tremendous benefit to us as well.”
Despite the brutal heat of the Arizona desert the feedback was positive.
Jensenius stated how happy he was with their experience in dealing with everyone involved who made this event happen. He expressed his appreciation on how welcoming the wing was from a maintenance squadron standpoint as the senior maintainer.
“Everyone thought the trip was awesome,” Jensenius said. “The only negative feedback we received was that they wanted to be here longer.”
The success of the trip generated ideas and initiated talks of similar training events in the near future.
“This was a perfect opportunity for our 414th MXS to experience the differences in another fourth generation aircraft as well as introduce them to fifth generation maintenance concepts and differences,” said Col. Bryan Cook, 944th FW commander. “We will continue to provide our Airmen opportunities to interact, share innovative ideas, and practices to enhance our capabilities at both the GSU’s as well as here at the wing.”