Quiet Professionals

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt.Tyler Duncan
  • 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron
Often times when referring to the "quiet professionals," we think of Navy Seals and Army Special Forces. However after having been a part of the maintenance career field now for little more than a year I can already see that there is a different breed of individuals in the United States military, and none finer example of the Air Force maintainer than here at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Sure we will continue to admire those "snake eaters" as having been through some of the most rigorous physical demands in our military, but the caliber individual it takes to continue to turn a wrench in the most adverse conditions available, and still follow technical data to safely launch our aircraft, deserves a cool nickname too or at least a little more recognition.

Maintainers are of the oldest breed in the Air Force. As soon as engineers built those planes, we needed maintainers to keep them working properly, even before we needed pilots to fly them. Today nearly 30 percent of the entire Air Force is somehow affiliated with maintenance. Maintainers make up the most diverse set of career fields, and they are held to some of the highest standards because if they make a mistake, it is a pilot's life and a multi-million dollar aircraft that is at stake.

Maintainers here at Seymour understand the importance of their job and work around the clock to continue to make the mission happen. A single maintainer may work upwards of 12 or more hours a day, and with 2,000 maintenance personnel that is nearly 100,000 man hours to get the average 320 sorties a week up in the air.

When through with their demanding duties the Maintainer, ultimately an Airman, is expected to maintain their physical fitness standard, go to school to pursue their CCAF, get involved in the community, and then with whatever time is left over they spend with their families. And oh, did I mention maintainers work almost every weekend to catch up on maintenance or to prepare the aircraft for Monday's flights.

Maintenance is a world entirely to its own, never stopping as it continues to evolve, perfect, and fix its own practices. With continued manning restraints and no lag in operations tempo to produce and sustain combat ready pilots, maintenance personnel find it more and more challenging to produce the required number of sorties. The maintainers here who rise to this challenge each and every day are in a league all of their own.

From the brand new Airman sitting in their first maintenance orientation class to the chief who has been doing this for nearly thirty years, these individuals stay focused on their priorities and realize that one lost sortie could be one too many. These quiet professionals who come and go as regular people step up every single day and produce extraordinary results.

Pilots have been and will remain the face of the Air Force, but I am here to tell you that it is those individuals with the focus to produce a quality product, in all weather conditions, at all hours of the day, without complaint, that are truly the beating heart of the Air Force.