MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
It was a cool, misty morning on the flightline when an A-10C Thunderbolt II weapons crew prepared to load munitions.
Like most people, these Airmen roll out of bed, dress for work and have their routine cup of coffee.
But what their duties require is quite different from the average person. Unlike most jobs, a simple mistake could be the difference between life or death.
Weapons specialists ensure when the trigger is pulled, weapons fire in order to maintain Moody’s combat capability.
“We do maintenance like every other career field on the flightline, but our main job is to safely and reliably load munitions on aircraft so pilots can drop bombs,” said Staff Sgt. Brannon House, 74th Fighter Generation Squadron weapons load crew team chief.
The 74th FGS load crew members typically work in three-man teams to complete loads.
“In a three-man crew we all have different jobs,” said House. “Communication is key, because if just one thing is wrong, it could cause a weapon malfunction or – heaven forbid – a munition goes off under a pilot’s seat.”
Knowing that the slightest error can be catastrophic, weapons Airmen emphasize consistent, reliable training.
“When we’re training with (un-armed) munitions we practice like we play,” said Airman 1st Class Randal Garcia, 74th FGS weapons load crew member. “Every single day we’re out there, we’re doing it correctly. Even though we know the bomb is (unarmed), we still treat them like they’re armed.”
While getting over the hurdles of proficient work can be tiresome, it’s not the only barrier to the mission the 74th FGS faces.
“I would say manning, constant changes and updates are some of our biggest issues,” said House. “We’re always trying to think of ways to improve our loading capabilities and make them safer. You just have to be flexible because from month-to-month things change.”
Through these obstacles, the 74th FGS still finds ways to execute the mission with distinction.
“Fortunately, we’ve been lucky enough to win the Load Crew of the Quarter for the third quarter, the (23rd Wing) Load Crew of the Year and ACC’s Load Crew of the year,” said House. “It’s cool that they give us that ability to put our skills on display for people who don’t understand what we do.”
With each victorious stride, the 74th FGS continues to maintain Moody AFB’s lethality and combat capability.
“I’d say the biggest part of our combat capability is making sure that we do our job right every time, all the time,” said House. “Weapons standardization does a great job teaching us how to do things and making sure pilots go up with safe and reliable munitions.”
As the work-day comes to an end and the load crew walks away from the “can’t-fail” mission, they can be sure that an A-10 can be sent anywhere at any time and discharge bombs with ease.