Military News

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

RPA maintainers win Load Crew of the Year

by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

3/24/2015 - LAS VEGAS  -- The 432nd Maintenance Group announced the 2014 432nd MXG Load Crew of the Year competition winners during the 2014 Maintenance Professional of the Year ceremony March 20, 2015, at the Aliante Hotel and Casino here.

The Reaper Aircraft Maintenance Unit, which maintains the MQ-9 Reaper, took the victory by outperforming Tiger AMU, which maintains the MQ-1 Predator, in this year's Load Crew of the Year competition. Both units belong to the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assigned to Creech Air Force Base, Nevada.

The Load Crew of the Year competition challenges a three-person weapons loading team from each AMU against each other as a friendly competition to further skills and promote camaraderie. The competitions can trace their roots since before the Korean War.

This year the teams were graded on loading four inert GBU-12 Paveway II laser-guided bombs on an MQ-9 Reaper in less than 45 minutes while committing as few discrepancies as possible. While the weapons load is a big part of the competition, the teams are graded on other aspects as well.

"The teams are evaluated and inspected the day prior on dress and appearance, a 20 question knowledge-based questionnaire, and their composite tool kit (CTK)," said Staff Sgt. Patrick Rochester, 432nd MXG lead crew member.

Each team starts with 1,200 points and loses points for dress and appearance demerits, as well as for discrepancies with CTK, safety, reliability, checklists, and technical orders.

"To be a part of the Load Crew of the Year competition the individuals on each team must have competed in at least one Load Crew of the Quarter competition and have a flawless record," Rochester said.

The winning team is rewarded for their efforts with a three day work pass, an individual and a traveling team trophy to display in their squadron.

The Reaper AMU load crew team consisted of: Staff Sgt. Jason Sandlin, 432nd AMXS weapons load crew chief, Senior Airman Jeffrey Salyer, 432nd AMXS weapons load crew member, and Airman 1st Class Kenneth Rogers, 432nd AMXS weapons load crew member.

"It's an awesome feeling to have won," Sandlin said. "It took weeks of preparation but I'm glad it paid off."

"These load competitions help our teams exercise their skills and abilities to execute the mission in a safe environment first, and prepare to execute missions for combat operations, all while improving morale within the units," said Col. Matthew Finnegan, 432nd Maintenance Group commander.

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