KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
The Airmen of the 415th Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) work around the clock on the MC-130J Commando II and HC-130J Combat King II aircraft assigned to keep them mission ready for the 415th Special Operation Squadron (SOS).
The AMU and 415th SOS have something in common, mirroring their mission statements. “Generate sorties today, to produce tomorrow’s special operations aviators.”
Despite the hard work and dedication of the AMU team, this past August was a challenging month. The AMU missed seventeen missions for the 415th SOS due to maintenance issues on aircraft. To combat this trend, the leadership team got together to come up with a solution.
“We had to get back to the basics,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Ryan DeLine, 415th AMU officer-in-charge. “We pulled the team together and we ended up breaking records in October.”
The hard work in September and October led the 415th SOS to fly their most MC-130J hours in a single month in October. Additionally, the AMU only had six maintenance non deliveries, according to DeLine.
“I couldn’t be more proud to serve the men and women of the 415th AMU as their officer in-charge,” said DeLine. “I am extremely privileged to lead maintainers of such high caliber that work hard on the flight line every day and quite literally breathe life into these C-130s with their energy and drive. I’m honored to be a part of this diverse team made up of active-duty, National Guard, and civilians as these maintainers do the impossible, and I get to share with the world just how remarkable they truly are.”
Though the unit is back on track, there are still daily challenges. One of the challenges that faces the unit is the number of three levels. Not only are the senior airmen and NCOs the backbone of the AMU, doing the job and maintaining the aircraft, but they’re teaching and training new Airmen in the unit, according to DeLine.
“We rely heavily on our five and seven-levels to do a lot more than you would think of other career fields,” said DeLine. “They bear a lot of responsibility at a young age.”
Though maintainers bear a lot of responsibility at a young age, most maintainers like U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jacob Bach, enjoy just working on the aircraft to keep them or get them back to mission ready.
“It brings a lot of satisfaction knowing that a crew member comes down with an issue and you sit here and work it and finally figure out what exactly is going wrong with it and you replace it and fix it or whatever you have to do,” said Bach, 415th AMU crew chief. “Seeing it go back up, you’re like ‘man I just made a difference.’”
Though the Airmen on the flight line might not see it, one major thing that is helping the unit is the relationship between the operations and AMU leadership teams.
“I think here, we have a really good ops and maintenance relationship,” said DeLine. “I’ve never had such a good relationship with our ops counterparts as I do here. They make good compromises and they do praise us a lot in public which I’m appreciative for, but they will also tell us when we mess up. They’re very honest and fair.”
That good relationship between the ops and maintenance leadership ensures the success of both their missions to generate sorties today to produce tomorrow’s special operations aviators.