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Dover reservists key to total force training overseas

Aircraft maintainers assigned to the 512th Airlift Wing perform a visor check on a C-5M Super Galaxy at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 29, 2018. More than 30 512th maintainers traveled to Ramstein AB as a part of a two-week enroute training mission. (Courtesy photo)

Aircraft maintainers assigned to the 512th Airlift Wing perform a visor check on a C-5M Super Galaxy at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 29, 2018. More than 30 maintainers assigned to the 512th Maintenance Group traveled to Ramstein AB for a two-week enroute training mission. (Courtesy photo)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. – Over 30 512th Maintenance Group maintainers traveled to Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Nov. 23, 2018, for an enroute training mission to augment active-duty maintainers, allotting them time to perform hands-on, airframe training.

While in the U.S. European Command theater, the Liberty Wing maintainers took charge of the flightline working 12-hour shifts alongside 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintainers. Together they recovered and launched 15 C-5M Super Galaxies in 10 days.

“The 512th Maintenance Group has had a long-standing practice of conducting enroute training,” said Capt. Jason Lowrey, the 712th AMXS operations officer, who helped coordinate the two-week mission. “The extra manning we provide allows for active-duty maintenance units to focus on other training requirements while we handle flightline maintenance.”

In addition to supporting Ramstein AB’s normal flightline operations, the reserve maintainers kept the dedicated C-5M trainer aircraft in working conditions for the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing’s training event.

“They had an issue with the plane’s visor, and it interrupted their training,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brosius, 512th Isochronal Dock section chief, who also served as the enroute training mission team chief. “Our guys went in immediately, fixed the issue and got the 521st AMOW maintainers back out there again. We did that every day – made sure the bird was prepped and ready for them.”    

The two-week enroute mission was unheard of, said Master Sgt. Benjamin Burrows, the 512th MXS crew chief, who also went on the enroute mission.

“Typically when we execute enroutes, the trainer aircraft remains grounded for about 24 - 48 hours before heading to its next destination,” he added.

Lt. Col. Robert Ryder, 521st AMOW deputy commander of operations, said 10 Airmen could train on an aircraft grounded for 48 hours, adding circumstances such as late aircraft arrival, early departure and aircraft re-tasking hinder the 521st AMOW maintainers from receiving the full benefits of training.

Team Dover’s efforts in providing a C-5M for two weeks was the longest a Dover aircraft remained grounded in the EUCOM theater for training, making the mission a first of its kind.  

With Dover’s reservists augmenting Ramstein’s active-duty maintainers, and an opportune aircraft dedicated to the enroute mission, more than 140 aircraft maintainers and aerial port Airmen assigned to bases in Germany, Spain and Turkey, completed more than 980 proficiency tasks.

Col. Brad Spears, the 521st AMOW commander, said completing nearly 1,000 tasks during a two-week C-5M training session was a feat that may have taken more than a year under current practices.

Dover AFB leadership is credited with realizing the need for improved enroute training, and the 436th and 512th maintenance groups implemented a plan to develop it.

As an added bonus to the enhanced enroute training, the 512th’s senior maintainers employed their 50-plus years of experience and continuity servicing C-5Ms by providing on-the-job training for 45 junior maintainers assigned to the 512th and 721st maintenance units.

Having served as EUCOM maintenance instructors on previous enroute missions, these senior maintainers conducted training in dozens of tasks, including jacking, tire-changing, marshaling and refueling.

“I was proud to see all of us come together,” said Brosius. “It was truly one team, one fight. That’s the point of the Reserve, to integrate with active-duty in such a way, you can’t tell the difference. Some of our guys are fulltime elementary school teachers, nurses and firefighters, but for that 15-day mission they were maintainers in uniform, serving their country.”

 (Staff Sgt. Aaron Jenne, 436th Public Affairs, contributed to this story)