Friday, January 20, 2017

TOP STORY >> Munitions Airmen hit target on preparation

By Airman 1st Class Grace Nichols
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Guarded by a tall gate, filled with underground bunkers and hiding in the back recesses of the base, the 19th Maintenance Squadron munitions flight on Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, is a secluded area but vital to Combat Airlift.

From inspections to storage, the flight ensures ammunition hit their targets by providing ammunition to the 19th Airlift Wing and 189th Airlift Wing.

“Each component relies on us for [the ammunition for] base defense,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Anthony Buff, 19th MXS munitions flight chief. “Anytime the team is tasked with something they get it done and do what is needed to help defend the base.”

The munitions team inspects, stores and maintains a variety of ammunition and equipment, ranging from standard 5.56 ammunition to explosives and rockets.

The munitions Airmen also assists with flightline operations by loading chaff and flares onto C-130s. Chaff and flares are key components used in C-130 aircraft defense.

Working with personnel ranging from the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordinance Disposal team to flightline operations, the munitions shop provides the ammunition required to complete each unit’s mission.

“We work with everybody to get the job done,” Buff said. “From the 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron to the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron and multiple agencies on base.”

Just as marks left on a bullet can identify the firearm it was fired from, an ammo troop can be identified by marks of the trade. The rigorous training in preparing and inspecting ammunition and weapons singles out the Airmen from other career fields. 

Airmen are required to complete regular self-assessment checks and annual explosive safety training, in addition to training off base to support joint service operations.

“We conduct training missions at Fort Polk, Louisiana, to simulate ground to air rockets,” Buff said. “The team works hard, a lot of the work they do is unseen but still mission essential.”

The training is only one of the identifying factors of a munitions Airman. The camaraderie gleaned from working closely together creates a sense of brotherhood in the Airmen throughout their careers.

“We’re a very tight-knit community,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Antonio Valencia, 19th MXS munitions storage crew member. “Once you’re ammo, you’re always ammo.”

The shop is located on more than 80 acres of land, hosting 725 different types of ammunition. Including a war reserve stock pile, Including a war reserve stock pile, the combined total number of assets equals 1.7 million. The combined stock piles are worth more than $9 million and will be used to carry out the unrivaled Combat Airlift mission for years to come.

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