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Gamblers, Tigers compete for year’s best load crew

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Daniel Nunez, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew member, secures an AIM-9X Sidewinder on an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Daniel Nunez, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew member, secures an AIM-9X Sidewinder on an F-16 Fighting Falcon during a Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019. Every component of the competition is scored and summed up, with the winning team being announced a few months later. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

From left, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Josef Thompson, Staff Sgt. Samuel Ortiz and Airman 1st Class Daniel Nunez, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew, review paperwork following load-completion at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019.

From left, U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Josef Thompson, Staff Sgt. Samuel Ortiz and Airman 1st Class Daniel Nunez, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew, review paperwork following load-completion at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019. Each member of the team has a specific task assigned to ensure a safe and flawless load. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Josef Thompson, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew member, embraces a wingman following the completion of the Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Josef Thompson, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew member, embraces a wingman following the completion of the Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019. The winning crew will be announced later this year at the Maintenance Professional of the Year banquet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th and 79th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, participated in a Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th and 79th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, participated in a Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019. The participating load crews earned their spots in the yearly competition through their placements in the quarterly competitions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Josef Thompson, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew member, inspects an AIM-9X Sidewinder at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Josef Thompson, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew member, inspects an AIM-9X Sidewinder at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019. Thompson served in the three-man position, which is tasked with operating the bomb loader and performing inspections on munitions prior to loading. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Levi Brady, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 79th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) load crew member, prepares a weapon rack during a Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Levi Brady, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 79th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) load crew member, prepares a weapon rack during a Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019. Brady, who served as the two-man, performed a majority of the hands-on munition maintenance for the 79th AMU. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Daniel Nunez, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew member, connects fins to a munition during a Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Daniel Nunez, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit load crew member, connects fins to a munition during a Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019. The Load Crew of the Year competition consisted of a uniform and toolbox inspection and a written test based on career knowledge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU), prepare munitions during a Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU), prepare munitions during a Load Crew of the Year competition at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 1, 2019. Members from the 77th and 79th AMU went head-to-head loading munitions quickly and efficiently onto an F-16 Fighting Falcon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Maldonado)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron participated in the annual Load Crew of the Year competition, March 1.

The load crews assigned to the 77th and 79th Aircraft Maintenance Units loaded munitions onto F-16 Fighting Falcons, underwent uniform and toolbox inspections, and completed a written test based on career knowledge.

The members of the 77th AMU consisted of Staff Sgt. Samuel Ortiz, load crew team lead, Airman 1st Class Daniel Nunez and Senior Airman Josef Thompson, load crew team members.

The members of the 79th AMU consisted of Staff Sgt. Dylan Zamminer, load crew team lead, Airman 1st Class Levi Brady and Airman 1st Class Shana Salmon, load crew team members.

“During the load competitions, the crews can only be prepared so much,” said Tech. Sgt. Gregory Nunley, 20th Maintenance Group loading standardization crew member. “You train like you play … when things get hectic and your adrenaline gets going, you do things the way you do it on a daily basis. It is truly the best way to see the load crews training in action.”

Each load crew operates with three distinct positions. The one-man position is tasked with reviewing technical orders and leading his troops. The two-man position performs the hands-on aircraft maintenance, and the three-man position operates machinery and assists with any additional maintenance.

“I believe these competitions are crucial to unit comradery,” said Master Sgt. Elliceyoes Grayson, 20th MXG loading standardization crew chief. “Not only is it bragging rights for the load crews, but it’s for the whole unit. It gives the units something to look forward to every quarter and once a year.”

Every component of the competition is scored and summed up with the winning team announced later this year at the Maintenance Professional of the Year banquet.

By participating in these events, load crews are able to remain proficient in their craft while fighting for the chance to bring the coveted Load Crew of the Year trophy back to their squadron.