Westover demonstrates capabilities to Dover leadership
By Staff Sgt. Zoe Russell, 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 29, 2018
DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Wing leadership met with Airmen assigned to the 436th Maintenance Squadron, Operating Location Alpha, August 22-23, 2018, at Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts.
The group included Col. Joel Safranek, 436th Airlift Wing commander, Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Green, 436th AW command chief, Col. Christopher May, 436th Maintenance Group commander, Lt. Col. Evan Grabell, 436th Mainenance Squadron commander, Chief Master Sgt. Wayne Baker, 436th MXS superintendent, and Master Sgt. Jamie Beard, 436th MXS first sergeant.
The 436th MXS, OL-A, is a geographically separated unit from Dover AFB’s 436th MXG. Currently, 44 active duty Airmen are assigned to the squadron to augment the civilian and reservist work force in the Regionalized Isochronal (RISO) Inspection Dock. Together, they work as a Total Force Integration to complete the only minor ISO inspections for the entire Air Force C-5M Super Galaxy fleet.
Minor ISO inspections are one of a three-part preventative maintenance inspection program, to include all major inspections conducted at Dover AFB and all Program Depot Maintenance inspections conducted at Robbins Air Reserve Base, which keeps the C-5 fleet operating at the highest capacity possible.
“Every single C-5 that goes through their minor ISO inspection comes through here,” said Senior Master Sgt. Heath Fortenberry, 436th Maintenance RISO flight superintendent. “So, essentially, we have a hand in ensuring that the entirety of our nation’s most capable strategic airlifter is fully mission capable and ready to conduct the mission.”
The two-day trip included tours of Westover ARB and the RISO Dock, commander’s calls and recognizing staff sergeant promotions and quarterly award winners. It also included informal events, such as an Airman/NCO breakfast and Chief’s Chat, which allowed the maintainers valuable face-to-face time with their leadership.
“Westover is unique,” Fortenberry said. “Not many [active duty] Airmen get to work at a base where it is owned and operationally controlled by Reservists. It does offer a few challenges because we don’t have the amenities like at an active duty base. However, we get to work with civilians and reservists who have been at Westover for 20, 30, 40 years. A lot of active duty units are never able to obtain that kind of continuity, longevity and knowledge. So for our Airmen to be able to learn from that and work for them is what’s unique about being at Westover.”
Baker said frequent visits to Westover ARB are crucial to ensuring Dover leadership is aware of any challenges Westover Airmen may face and the methods to solve them.
“The in-person visits and constant communication are [essential] at making them feel like they are taken care of and are thought of back at Dover,” said Baker.
For some 436th MXS, OL-A, Airmen, such as C-5 RISO Craftsman Staff Sgt. Austin Schmidt, visiting Dover leadership provides an opportunity to see old acquaintances.
“I was stationed at Dover [AFB] for six years,” said Schmidt. “I’ve known Chief Baker since I came in. He was one of my flight chiefs when I first came into the Air Force, so it’s really cool seeing him come up here.”
Other Airmen welcomed the chance for candid conversation with wing supervision.
“We’ve seen [our leadership] three to four times a year, which is nice because with past commands we were kind of the forgotten children up here,” said Staff Sgt. Timothy Geary, 436th MXS, OL-A aerospace propulsion craftsman. “Since Lt. Col. Grabell has come to office, there have been a lot of changes and he’s really helped us here.”
May said he was excited to meet his Airmen for the first time and emphasize to them that they are an essential part of the Dover mission.
“They are integral in supporting the warfighter through rapid global mobility,” said May. “These Airmen provide an invaluable service to the entire C-5 fleet by delivering quality aircraft through the regionalized isochronal inspections.”