AVIANO AIR BASE, iTALY --
From Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, to Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, the 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit has finally finished setting down roots at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
The 56th HMU operated in Iceland from 1988, with HH-3’s, then converted to PAVE Hawks in 1992, said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Edward T. Sims, 31st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 56th Helicopter Maintenance Unit, support craftsman.
“The unit received a short notice tasking to move from Iceland to England, with a later move planned to Romania or Bulgaria within five years,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Paul Crumpton, 31 AMXS, 56th HMU, superintendent.
However the unit ended up staying in RAF Lakenheath for 12 years, said Sims.
In 2018, the 56th HMU finally moved to Aviano Air Base, Italy, but hadn’t fully made itself a home.
The unit has been in the process of renovating and building new facilities in hangar three to help improve the Airmen’s quality of life, including a new support section, crew chief and specialist office, productions office, a kitchen, full bathroom, and a locker room with showers.
“This project has been in the making for roughly three years,” said Sims.
The new facilities give Airmen from the 56th HMU a sense of belonging, said Sims.
“We are finally becoming what most of the guys from other bases say is a ‘real unit,’” said Sims. “We went from coming here with just a base and a bunch of ideas and we turned them into a reality. We are finally at the point where we are no longer building, but molding the future of the 56th HMU.”
The facilities provide Airmen with an area to come together as a team, as they now have a bigger room with a very large table that permits various discussions and trainings.
The new renovations at the 56th HMU can help make the Airmen, the unit, and the overall Air Force better.
“Being in production, I’m more capable of doing my job since I am connected to the flight line,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Shane Pearce, 31st AMXS, 56th HMU, production superintendent. “We have better visibility over our people and the aircraft.”
The 56th HMU works together to accomplish the mission.
“You will not find another unit that cares about their people more than ours,” said Sims. “I feel like it’s part of the beauty of the Air Force. It’s the respect we have for one another and the ability to care about the mission, and we are a very proud rescue community that’s happy to sink our roots in Aviano, Air Base.”