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“Gamblers never fold”

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Leighton, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit dedicated crew chief, stands with his F-16CJ Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 11, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Leighton, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit dedicated crew chief, stands with his F-16CJ Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 11, 2019. As a dedicated crew chief, Airmen get the honor of being able to have their name on the aircraft, as it is their charge to maintain and keep track of for the safety of all who may fly in their respective aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Leighton, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS), 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) tactical aircraft maintainer, left, alongside, Airman 1st Class Austin Deney 20th AMXS, 77th AMU avionics specialist, right, secure an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon, as a pilot prepares to exit his jet, at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 11, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jacob Leighton, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS), 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) tactical aircraft maintainer, left, alongside, Airman 1st Class Austin Deney 20th AMXS, 77th AMU avionics specialist, right, secure an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon, as a pilot prepares to exit his jet, at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 11, 2019. Dedicated crew chiefs put in countless hours of work in conjunction with many other career fields to keep their respective jet properly maintained. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

U.S. Air Force 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen guide a pilot, as he lands, ensuring he is safe to get out of his aircraft at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 11, 2019.

U.S. Air Force 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Airmen guide a pilot, as he lands, ensuring he is safe to get out of his aircraft at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 11, 2019. Before every takeoff and at every landing, dedicated crew chiefs will send off and welcome back the pilots, carried by the very jets they put so much work into. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gonzalez, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit avionics specialist, unscrews a panel on an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 11, 2019.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gonzalez, 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit avionics specialist, unscrews a panel on an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., March 11, 2019. Gonzalez opened the panel to troubleshoot an issue with electronics on the jet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kaitlyn Brewer)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Being the last person pilots see upon takeoff and first upon arrival is a heavy task, one taken on by 20th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 77th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, tactical aircraft maintainers.

These Airmen work to get F-16CJ Fighting Falcons safely off the ground and back no matter the hours it may take; strictly abiding by their motto, “These Gamblers never fold.”


The 77th AMU, also referred to as the Gamblers AMU, consist of tactical aircraft maintainers, also known as dedicated crew chiefs. Though these Airmen play a crucial role in mission success, they would not be able to complete their mission and get jets in the air without help from the other shops-avionics service technicians and communications technicians.

“We maintain F-16’s for training sorties while at home station and combat sorties when deployed,” said Staff Sgt. Taylor Hendricks, 20th AMXS, 77th AMU dedicated crew chief. “Crew chiefs change the tires, service the systems and change most of the parts to ensure it’s safe for flight.”


Hendricks went on to say without Gambler AMU avionics technicians, the engines and electrical systems would not be up-to-par for crew chiefs to do their jobs. While crew chiefs are responsible for the maintenance of their jets, they have to draw on the knowledge of avionics technicians for electrical work and expertise, components out of their realm of maintenance knowledge.

“A good crew chief is going to work with every shop to know exactly what is happening with his aircraft at all times and keep tabs on everything to give the pilots a near-perfect product,” said Senior Airman Jacob Leighton, 20th AMXS, 77th AMU dedicated crew chief.

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Gonzalez, 20th AMXS, 77th AMU avionics specialist, said they maintain all computer systems and avionics equipment on F-16s, including air-data systems, radio, electronic counter measures and flight patrols for the crew chiefs.

“We work in tandem with crew chiefs, having to constantly keep communication and make sure everything is good on their end before we crack into the computer systems or attempt to fix anything beyond their realm on their aircraft,” said Gonzalez.

Leighton said the Gamblers AMU is truly a deck of cards, as the crew chiefs would not be able to succeed without the help of avionics specialist technicians, weather technicians, communications technicians, or aircraft flight equipment technicians. All work together so the pilots, who ultimately make use of everyone’s hard work, can take-off in a $14.6 million asset and ensure mission success with precise equipment.

From crew chief to pilot, these Gamblers never fold.