28th AMXS highlights M-1 teammates

  • Published
  • By Airman Alessandra N. Gamboa
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Retiring from the Air Force as a B-1B Lancer mechanic doesn't always mean an Airman then has to work an ordinary job.

For many members of the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron M-1 support services contract field team, their service to their country continues.

According to Retired Senior Master Sgt. Jim Winkles, 28th AMXS site lead, the entire CFT is comprised of 32 very experienced mechanics who share a combined total of 460 years worth of B-1 experience - each possessing an average of 15 and a half years of knowledge. The average time a 28th AMXS Airman spends working with the B-1 is approximately two and a half years.

"With such a high turnover rate of Airmen to various aircraft in different locations, we're a tool for the Air Force and we supply the continuity," he said. "At any given time throughout the day, there are approximately seven CFT mechanics working with Airmen on each shift. We're on the same team."

Some team members, like Ron Tidwell, 28th AMXS M-1 Support Services contractor, retired from the Air Force as a tech. sergeant one Friday, took the weekend off and went back to work the following Monday. His reasons for this include fun and friendship.

"Working on the B-1 can be frustrating at times because it's so complex, but we get the job done and have fun," Mr. Tidwell said. "There's camaraderie among all of the maintainers - we all know and have worked with each other before, so that definitely helped to ease the transition from military to civilian life."

Among the perks of being able to work with friends doing something they've already been trained to do, the M-1 mechanics are no longer locked into one aspect of maintenance, but are instead free to explore, repair and maintain all parts of the jet.

As a result of their comprehensive expertise in multiple areas, the 28th AMXS has been able to provide combat-ready B-1 aircraft and associated support equipment in half the time.

"They're mentors to us all," said Senior Airman Alex Pappas, 28th AMXS dedicated crew chief. "The questions we ask them don't have to always be work-related. They have a plethora of knowledge not only about B-1 systems and technical applications, but also about life and the Air Force. Airmen of all ranks from those newly-enlisted to senior NCOs go to them for advice."

Master Sgt. Clifford Schuelke, 28th AMXS production superintendent, said there isn't a day he doesn't ask someone from the CFT for advice, at least once. "There is nothing they haven't seen or done," he said.