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Competition tests combat-readiness

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ashley Maldonado
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Two load crews from the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron tested their knowledge and combat-readiness during a quarterly load crew competition, Jan. 18.

While these competitions test a load crew’s ability to do the job, the competition also showcases the Air Force’s capabilities through each load crew demonstration of their knowledge and skills under pressure as well as their ability to complete the objective; reflecting their readiness to face the fight of today and in the future.

“For each person of the crew, there are three of us, the judges are looking for separate things,” said Senior Airman Josef Thompson, 20th AMXS weapons loader. “They also look for errors in the forms. They are looking to see if you are doing everything in a timely manner while also making sure you’re doing it safely.”

The competitions consist of three parts: dress and appearance, the written test, and the load.

The load is an evaluation of each munition that will be loaded, munitions preparation, loading the munitions and, finally, a post-load check.

To simulate a deployed environment, every team member must wear full Mission-Oriented Protective Posture gear during the competition.

“We did this load earlier in the week as a practice, and it wasn’t too bad,” Thompson said. “Five minutes into it, I didn’t even notice the crowd was there because it was more of a, ‘I want to get this done and get out of this chemical gear’ type of thing.”

After initial certification, Airmen must perform a monthly proficiency load. The top performing team from each aircraft maintenance unit throughout the quarter are selected for the load crew competition.

“We have to know what to look for and any discrepancies because you don’t want to put a bad bomb on a jet and say it’s good, especially if you’re in a war-zone,” Thompson said.

Thompson went on to say he believes the competition raises morale by testing how much they know and how quickly they can perform their job in a safe manner.

“I think the load crew competition is important because it increases morale throughout each AMU and all the load crews have something to work towards, so they can compete against each other,” said Tech. Sgt. Gregory Nunley, 20th Maintenance Group weapons standardization evaluator. “That’s what weapons troops live for.”