by Capt. Kathleen Ice
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
1/27/2016 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- It's been raining sideways for hours since he arrived for work on the flightline at 6 a.m.
Staff Sgt. Justin Worcester ignores his drenched uniform and plows ahead
while inspecting every inch of the 53-year-old KC-135 Stratotanker,
because he's a crew chief. His name is on it.
"We put everything on the line when we sign our name off," Worcester
said. "The aircrew is trusting us to make sure this aircraft is safe to
Airmen like Worcester defend their country by making sure the U.S. can
quickly move people and equipment around the world at a moment's
notice. This is executing rapid global mobility, Air Mobility Command's
Time can save lives in a humanitarian crisis. Alternately, surprise is a
principle of war. Whether a KC-135 is creating an air bridge for a
32-hour bomber mission or a C-17 is air dropping pallets of food to
earthquake victims, the U.S. can move a large force in a matter of
hours, not days.
This is made possible by Worcester and a team of approximately 126,000 other mobility Airmen.
The Best Checklist
"Teamwork's crucial," said Worcester, who is assigned to the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
"If I come out here to do a tire change with a couple of Airmen, I
expect them to have the knowledge of what to do, what tools they might
need," he said. "If we come out here to do an inspection on the
aircraft, I expect my other team members to know what they're looking
From the latest corporate knowledge in Worcester's checklists to his
headset and gloves, Air Mobility Command makes sure he has what he needs
to do his job.
"Executing rapid global mobility is about moving missions, and 18th Air
Force has the operational lead on that," said AMC's commander, Gen.
Carlton D. Everhart II. "But in order to move, you have to have a
sufficiently organized, trained and equipped force."
Maintaining a sufficient force to execute rapid global mobility can be
challenging with fewer personnel and older aircraft than ever before,
but AMC works daily toward that goal. Due to its size, the Mobility Air
Force needs to be more agile, or flexible and responsive, according to
the 2015 Mobility Air Forces Strategic Vision.
Right Time, Right Place
Aging tankers require excellent maintenance to be flexible and
responsive. Back on the wet Florida flightline, Worcester inspects a
KC-135 that was built in 1963. It has responded to conflicts around the
world since Vietnam.
He walks under the wing and taps his knuckles all over the gray metal, making hollow sounds.
"You want to hit the diffuser here, because if mounted screws are
broken, you'll hear a little jingle," he says. All screws were intact.
The aircraft spent most of last year at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar in
support of Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom's Sentinel. The
Airmen who deployed it to Al Udeid work at 18th Air Force, AMC's
component numbered air force and the largest of its kind in the world.
Combined with the 618th Air Operations Center, the 18th AF executes
assigned missions through the employment of airlift, air refueling,
aeromedical evacuation and tailored global air mobility support systems.
It provides geographical combatant commanders a seamless and
synchronized logistical capability to execute their mission.
"We turn the conceptual into air power," said Lt. Gen. Samuel Cox, 18th
AF commander in a recent interview with "The Mobility Forum."
"Together, the pieces of the air mobility machine merge under the 18th
Air Force umbrella to execute AMC's priority to execute rapid global
mobility," Cox said.
To deploy forces effectively, the 18th AF commander entrusts tactical
execution with the Airmen at the 618th Air Operations Center. Around
the clock, they manage the complex sphere of theater clearances, flight
planning, mission planning, weather, and much more.
They make sure air mobility forces arrive on time in the right place for successful hand-off to overseas commanders.
In Airmen's Hands
With every hand-off of a KC-135 to an air crew, Worcester gets a sense of satisfaction.
The rain is gone, but wind still whips his hair as he watches the
KC-135's engines roar to life. He removes the yellow wooden chocks near
the landing gear, checks panels near the flight deck, runs out of the
way, turns and gives the pilot a thumbs up as the plane rolls forward.
"We have a lot of pride when we've been out here all night; and, right
before we leave in the morning, the jet that we've been working on 10
hours taxis out and we get to watch it take off," Worcester said.
"The landing gear goes up, and you know that plane made it and is going to come back safe."
He knows his role in executing rapid global mobility.
"If there were no crew chiefs, then the plane wouldn't get up off the groun