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Dover Reservists Head West for Off-Station Readiness Training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Shayna Hodge

With readiness at the forefront of their minds, more than 40 maintainers from the 512th Airlift Wing traveled from their home at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, to Honolulu for off-station readiness training this spring.

The group, comprised of members from the 512th Maintenance Squadron and the 512th and 712th Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons, spent two weeks at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, honing their maintenance skills on C-17 Globemaster II and C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft.

“The goal for our off-station annual tour was to give maintainers the opportunity to perform aircraft maintenance in a location with a higher operations tempo in order to increase proficiency in their Air Force Specialty Codes,” said Maj. Jason Lowrey, 512th MXS commander.

Ranging in rank from senior airman to senior master sergeant and representing more than 10 AFSCs, the 512th MXG accomplished training, working alongside several host units at the joint base.

On the flightline, 512th MXG members worked with the 735th Air Mobility Squadron to repair C-5s and C-17s. Other Reservists executed sheet metal and commander support staff operations with the 15th Maintenance Squadron and the 154th Wing of the Hawaii Air National Guard.

During training, maintainers working on the flightline took the lead on repairing unscheduled aircraft that had to land at Hickam.

“All we needed to know was where the tools are, and we were on the job,” said Chief Master Sgt. Omari Colas, 512th AMXS senior enlisted leader.

Staff Sgt. Vernon Miller, a 512th AMXS crew chief, said operating at Hickam was a great experience.

“Working with new Airmen, following different practices and procedures and working under different leadership helped up pick up different skills,” he said. “And it’s made me realize that operating out of the norm isn’t always a bad thing.”

Before the end of their annual tour, the Reservists from the 512th MXG participated in the Aloha Bunny exercise with fellow Airmen from Dover’s 326th Airlift Squadron.

“The goal of the exercise was to test our chemical defense and ability to survive and operate competencies while conducting real-world maintenance in a simulated, contested environment,” said Capt. Brandon Bermudez, 512th AMXS director of operations, who planned the exercise with Colas and Master Sgt. Jason Jones, 712th AMXS communication and navigation craftsman.

They designed the exercise scenarios to push maintainers to think outside the box and create solutions, leveraging Multi-Capable Airman concepts.

Aloha Bunny took 15 hours to complete. Exercise players reacted to scenarios that required them to respond to threats wearing various levels of Mission-Oriented Protective Posture gear, perform post-reconnaissance sweeps and provide aid to wounded Airmen.

Master Sgt. Erin Esquer, 512th AW readiness exercise coordinator, observed how maintainers responded to the various exercise challenges and supplemented the evaluations from the four-member wing inspection team.

“The exercise tested MXG’s and the 326th’s ability to operate and execute mission-essential tasks,” Esquer said. “Even though the units have their respective work, it’s important for them to be able to come together as a force and complete a mission. If they’re able to accomplish cohesiveness in training environments, that cohesiveness will transfer over to real-world and high-stress missions.”

Lowrey and other MXG leaders said the exercise went well.

“I couldn’t have been happier,” Colas said. “As far as I could see, our proficiency was there. I hope maintainers grasped a better understanding of what it’s like to operate in an austere environment and learned we have the capability to work efficiently even with limited resources.”

(Hodge is assigned to the 512th Airlift Wing public affairs office.)