Maintainers making mission happen during COVID-19 pandemic

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jayden Ford
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

With some Airmen working from home, while others continue their tasks in their work centers, a balance is being found between giving Airmen the time they need to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, while still delivering rapid global mobility.

The 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, is at the forefront of the mission — providing critical maintenance to the C-130J Super Hercules that are flying around the globe to bring medical personnel and supplies where they are needed most.

“During these times, we have to overcome a rapidly changing environment, deal with lower manning, and support missions to COVID-19 hot spots,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Eric Balbo, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead production superintendent. “It is like a new puzzle every day that needs to be put together."

As the workload changes due to the novel coronavirus, maintainers use their training and skills to adapt to the ever-changing environment they face.

“Realizing that the plan you have today will change tomorrow, and being able to switch gears on the spot has been crucial,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Connor Rebusmen, 19th AMXS flying crew chief manager. “This can lead to a stressful environment at times, but our Airmen performing the mission have been trained for times like this and are making the mission happen day in and day out.”

Leadership from 19th AMXS explains how imperative the maintenance mission is now more than ever.

“Our leadership makes it a point to keep Airmen informed about the impact they are having during this pandemic,” Rebusmen said. “Making sure they understand that the planes they fix and launch are providing much needed supplies and medical personnel to locations around the globe, and the safe movement of military and civilian personnel out of potential hot spots, gives them drive to keep the mission going.”

The 19th AMXS maintainers continue to adapt to the changing needs of the U.S. Air Force every day ensuring the success of the 19th Airlift Wing’s role in the fight against the virus.

“Our Airmen are the reason the squadron is able to accomplish the mission,” said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Willis, 19th AMXS maintenance superintendent. “They are busy, but they continue to rise to the challenge and impress me every day.”

After the pandemic, the mission these maintainers have accepted today will be remembered for years to come.

“I would like to emphasize how proud we are of what we have been able to accomplish and how, because of our hard work and dedication, they were able to make a real difference,” Balbo said.  “We need to continue to remind our maintainers that this event will be highlighted in the history books. We will be able to look back at this point in time and know that when our country and world needed the U.S. Air Force we all rolled up our sleeves, got to work, and were a real part of the solution.”