RAF MILDENHALL, England --
Members of the 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard, conducted annual vehicle maintenance training with the 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron at RAF Mildenhall July 20 – Aug. 2, 2019.
Five guardsmen from different units across Dallas/Fort Worth came to RAF Mildenhall to train on special purpose equipment and upgrade their skill level throughout all of the 100 LRS vehicle maintenance shops.
“We needed to update our training with vehicles we typically don’t get to touch at our home station and RAF Mildenhall was the perfect place to learn,” said Staff Sgt. Santini Tamayo, 136 LRS specialized vehicle maintainer.
RAF Mildenhall offered guardsmen the chance to train on new equipment but also complete necessary tasks for their junior Airmen.
“We have been able to work on our troubleshooting processes to make them better as well as check off some tasks for the lower ranking Airmen in our shop to help them complete their core tasks,” said Master Sgt. Brandon Isam, 221st Combat Communications Squadron NCO-in charge of vehicle maintenance.
“We were able to remove and reinstall a transmission in a Humvee we typically would not have had the chance to do back home,” Isam continued. “Now our Airmen can come back with their core tasks completed to upgrade in training.”
The visiting guardsmen come from neighboring stations in Texas. The majority of them are full-time vehicle maintainers. In addition to their training here, they’re able to bring new eyes to some old problems.
“Two of our platform vehicles were down for major system repairs, from voltage regulation, fuel delivery, to a complete transmission replacement,” said Jacob Sampsel, 100th LRS vehicle maintainer. “With the help of the guardsmen, we were able to have them back up and running. These Airmen were critical in the maintenance process.”
The Airmen were able to help keep RAF Mildenhall efficient with their support, as well as learn more about the active-duty process and how it differs from the Air National Guard.
“When we come up with a problem we are forced to think 360-degrees about it to utilize our limited time here as effectively as possible,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Merrill, 136 LRS fire truck and refueler maintainer. “When working with active-duty we have a different set of restraints; they have a completely different process regarding ordering parts and getting supplies.”
They had two challenges during their time here: limited time and misconceptions.
“There is always this idea guardsmen are very out of date with the skills or training of a typical active-duty member, but that’s completely wrong,” said Isam. “The majority of us are full-time guardsmen so we work with our vehicles every day, and this is a chance for us to learn something different and very necessary for us to bring the best information back for the rest of our Airmen back home.”
The opportunity has expanded not only their training skills, but allowed them to expand their network as well.
“These experiences are always valued; they benefit all of us with an expanded network from home to wherever we travel, but also new skills sets as well,” said Tamayo. “We get the opportunity to work on new problems in a different atmosphere and different missions.”
The guardsmen have to use their time and training to the fullest advantage.
“We don’t sit back and wait for things to come to us,” said Merrill. “We have to kick-start what we need to get done. We have a short time here and a lot to learn. We try to integrate with the shop as best as we can."
“We came eager to work and everyone has been nothing but welcoming. Even though we come from different parts of the world we all know one thing – vehicle maintenance. And, with that common ground, comes an understanding.”