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B-1 AMU finishes strong

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- The lethal team of B-1 aircrew, maintainers and support personnel are essential to the success of the missions flown by the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, but one element of that team has quietly left its mark on the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia.

From the beginning, the 379th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron's 37th Aircraft Maintenance Unit has delivered during the challenges of supporting Operations Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. The 37th AMU generated more than 350 safe and reliable combat sorties and achieved an overall 98.1 maintenance mission effectiveness rate, a measure the wing uses to track deviations caused by maintenance, for the duration of their deployment.

"That simply does not happen without the hard work and dedication of outstanding maintainers," said Maj. Michael Lawrence, 379th EAMXS commander.

The 37th AMU replaced a unit that operated at a geographically separated unit based in the Indian Ocean. Since then, the AMU has established a permanent rotational presence in Southwest Asia.

The transition involved setting up spare parts, inventorying equipment and developing a system for getting them to the current location, said Tech. Sgt. Troy Reemstma, a supply technician credited with managing the process. The process included setting up the infrastructure and an accountability database required by Air Force instructions.

When the transition started, the unit hovered around 50 percent compliance, but reached 100 percent within two months. This was accomplished without hampering the flying mission, according to Master Sgt. Allen Harned, sortie support flight superintendent.

The maintenance unit's efficiency was put to the test when a B-1 experienced a near-catastrophic failure due to total electrical system shut-down when returning to base after a combat mission up range. The maintenance crews jumped into action, pinpointed the cause of the failure, and had the jet fully mission capable again just 13 days from the time the emergency occurred. "That is very aggressive for all the system failures it had," said Senior Master Sgt. Brad Whittle, 37th AMU flight chief.

Getting the jet back in the air so quickly is a source of pride for the lead technician who accomplished the repair. "It flew a 12-hour mission and came back code 1," which means no maintenance problems arised, said Staff Sgt. Fernando Rosado, electronics and environmental craftsman. "And, it's still flying missions today."

With the B-1B maintenance crews ensuring the planes were mission ready, the aircrews were able to deliver a record number of bombs on target. More than 500 Joint Direct Attack Munitions were dropped during the 37th EBS's rotation. In fact, the squadron set another record in January by dropping more JDAMs in a single month than any other unit. That accomplishment is a source of pride for weapons team chief Staff Sgt. Matt Timm. "When it comes back empty, it's great to know the bombs we loaded saved American (troops') lives," he said.

While the coverage tends to focus on the action up range, the maintenance and support personnel take pride in knowing they played a critical role in accomplishing the wing mission. Many of the AMU's people have been recognized for their efforts.

"Overall, the 37th AMU has been challenged with additional air tasking orders and longer flights, which led to increased maintenance and logistics support requirements," said Maj. Lori Vessels, 37th AMU officer in charge. "We have met these challenges in stride and can let the numbers speak for themselves."

"The accomplishments of the 37th AMU were met through a complete team effort of crew chiefs, specialist, weapons, support and production personnel," said Chief Master Sgt. Tim Byrd, 37th AMU non-commissioned officer in charge. "Each section pulled together to set the bar extremely high for incoming units."