Military News

Saturday, December 05, 2015

525th FS crew chiefs honored at ceremony

by Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs

12/4/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Twenty-three F-22 Raptor crew chiefs from the 525th Maintenance Unit assumed the mantle of Dedicated Crew Chief during a DCC ceremony at the 525th Fighter Squadron headquarters on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Nov. 25.

The ceremony recognizes the top F-22 maintainers on the installation, honors for which include wearing a specialized set of overalls and a crew chief getting his name printed on the side of a jet.

"The purpose of this ceremony is to formally appoint those selected to assume the awesome responsibilities of a DCC," said Master Sgt. Daniel Helveston, 3rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron tactical aircraft maintenance specialist section chief. "Service as a Dedicated Crew Chief is a unique opportunity that demands every day be met with pride, professionalism, and enthusiasm by every individual who accepts the challenge and privilege of crewing the world's finest fighter aircraft, the F-22 Raptor."

The ceremony followed a similar event Oct. 23 for DCCs assigned to Raptors from the 90th FS.

The Airmen spoke in unison when reciting the vow of a DCC:
"Upon our honor, we swear that we shall hold in sacred trust the rights and privileges conferred upon us as certified mechanics. Knowing full well that the safety and lives of others are dependent upon our skill and judgment ... we realize the grave responsibility which is ours as certified Airmen, to exercise our judgment on the airworthiness of aircraft and equipment. therefore, pledge unyielding adherence to these precepts for the advancement of aviation and for the dignity of our vocation."

Pride and ownership were the themes of the ceremony, as Air Force Maj. Paul Netchaeff, 3rd AMXS commander, told how the DCC program came to prominence in the 1970s.

Air Force Gen. William Creech asked an Airman what he liked most about the program.

The Airman responded, "General, when is the last time you washed a rental car?" The Airman was not being disrespectful, but trying to emphasize that having his name on the Aircraft meant something to him.

The Airman's simple answer stuck with Creech; it summarized the underlying intent of the program: aircraft ownership. The Airman was implying if you own something, chances are you'll take better care of it.

"It doesn't mean they can tow it home; it's not that kind of ownership," Netchaeff said. "It's about taking pride in what you do. DCCs are handpicked based on professionalism, dedication, leadership, initiative, expertise, and exuding the corps values. They are the last to touch it before a sortie and the first to touch it when it comes back. It is a pivotal role. This aircraft has got to be combat ready all the time. Lives are at stake."

A pilot assigned to the same aircraft presented each new DCC with a certificate, patch and coin, officially designating the crew chief to their aircraft.
The honor struck home for Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Garcia,  a 525th AMU Raptor crew chief.

"Being responsible for another person's life goes through my mind all the time," Garcia said. "It makes me pay that much more attention to my job and focus on the details. To see all my hard work and dedication come to life every day when my jet takes off, it means I did my job and did it well."

Air Force Col. David Abba, 3rd Operations Group commander and F-22 pilot, flies the jet to which Garcia is assigned.

"The big difference between having a dedicated crew chief and an anonymous maintenance package, is I know that he has poured his heart and soul into that airplane as if it's his own because it is," Abba said. "I would trust whoever is out there launching me anyway but just knowing that the extra piece of personal ownership is present makes a big difference. That final salute that happens from a crew chief to a pilot as the jet is rolling out entails a lot of trust. It is very powerful."

Abba described the uniqueness of the location of his and Garcia's respective names on the jet.

"One of the things that's very interesting about this airplane, is you have the pilot's name on the left side of the fuselage up underneath the canopy on the nose wheel door and the DCC's name is on the right side," Abba explained.

"They are separated on different sides of the jet, but when we take off and the nose wheel comes up, the doors come together so you have the pilot's name and the DCC's name side by side flying through the air." Garcia said seeing Abba return his salute as he takes off is an almost indescribable feeling.

"Watching that happen and seeing my name on the side of the jet is such a feeling of accomplishment," Garcia said. "Never did I think my name would be on the side of an F-22. To see it taxi by is such a great feeling."

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