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Supply Airmen meet maintainers’ demand
Airman 1st Class Larry May, 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, replaces a part on a KC-135 Stratotanker Feb. 21, 2013. May, from Pikeville, Ky., deployed to southwest Europe with the 100th Air Refueling Wing from RAF Mildenhall, England, in January to support French operations in Mali. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May)
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Supply Airmen meet maintainers' demand

Posted 2/23/2013   Updated 2/25/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Austin M. May
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/23/2013 - SOUTHWEST EUROPE -- For deployed aircraft maintainers, a warehouse full of the spare parts necessary to keep their planes in the air isn't an option, but neither is waiting several days for parts to be shipped from their home station.

Fortunately, the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron Supply Airmen know how to pack for a trip.

While not exactly a parts warehouse, the mission readiness spares package maintained by Supply is a collection of more than 3,100 KC-135 Stratotanker parts, deemed most likely to need replacing, that travels with the contingent to their deployed base.

Everything from tiny retaining clips to aircraft wheels and tires are deployed along with the aircraft and maintainers, and managed by people like Tech. Sgt. Glenys Santiago, noncommissioned officer in charge, 100th LRS supply section, who deployed with the 351st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron in January to support French operations in Mali.

Santiago and the rest of her team - four Airmen in total - do the work of four individual duty sections at her home station, RAF Mildenhall, England.

"The planes don't fly without the correct parts," Santiago, a Dominican Republic native, said. In some cases, parts not on hand can take up to three days to arrive from home station, she added.

From the maintainers' perspective, supply is crucial to the timely maintenance of the deployed KC-135 fleet. Keeping track of the parts, which are worth nearly $5.4 million, is no small undertaking, and one the already busy maintainers can't afford to take on. The Supply Airmen are familiar with the system used to inventory, exchange and order the parts needed.

"It would be very difficult without them here," said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Frandsen, 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron expediter and Lake Andes, S.D., native. "Without the specialized training and knowledge they have, it could take anywhere from six to 12 hours for us to do what they do.

"Supply allows the maintainers to really focus on our jobs," he said.

When supply keeps things moving, and maintenance can focus on their jobs, other things tend to flow more efficiently also, said Capt. Dan Churchill, 351st EARS support officer in charge.

"The supply system is intensely complicated, and it takes a specialist to keep it running smoothly," said Churchill, a Bangor, Maine, native. "The team here does an outstanding job of making sure the maintainers get the parts they need with the absolute least amount of delay possible, and that allows aircraft to be in the air exactly where and when they're needed."

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