Mighty maintenance: 4th MXG celebrates prolific year

Members of the 4th Maintenance Group gathered for the 2016 Maintenance Professional of the Year awards banquet, Feb. 17, 2017. The event highlighted the group’s accomplishments and recognized superior performers from throughout the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittain Crolley)

Members of the 4th Maintenance Group gathered for the 2016 Maintenance Professional of the Year awards banquet, Feb. 17, 2017. The event highlighted the group’s accomplishments and recognized superior performers from throughout the year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Brittain Crolley)

Kevin Kelly (right), Boeing Co. Radar Modernization Program integrator, shows the group a liquid cooling pump from the F-15E Strike Eagle, Oct. 3, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Boeing Co. is contracted to install the upgrade of a new radar system from the old legacy APG-70 mechanically-scanned radar to an active electronically-scanned radar system APG-82. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Shawna L. Keyes)

Kevin Kelly (right), Boeing Co. Radar Modernization Program integrator, shows the group a liquid cooling pump from the F-15E Strike Eagle, Oct. 3, 2016, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. Boeing Co. is contracted to install the upgrade of a new radar system from the old legacy APG-70 mechanically-scanned radar to an active electronically-scanned radar system APG-82. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Shawna L. Keyes)

SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --

2016 was a busy year for the 4th Maintenance Group. On top of generating a year’s worth of sorties for four fighter squadrons, the maintenance crews also handled several other monkey wrenches that were thrown into their plans.

With the F-15E Strike Eagle celebrating its 30th birthday in 2016, the airframe has endured its fair share of wear and tear. In addition to its regularly scheduled maintenance, the aging aircraft also received several upgrades to keep it on the cutting edge.

One of the biggest was the radar modernization project, which will upgrade the Strike Eagle’s from mid-80s to early-90s technology and put in on par with fifth-generation fighter jets, like the F-22 Raptor and F-35 Lightning II. Although a team from Boeing is installing the hardware for the upgrade, the maintenance crews have the added responsibility of learning the ins and outs of the new system and conducting routine quality assurance checks to ensure optimal performance.

Similar quality assurance checks also identified 26 Strike Eagles with canopy deficiencies that rendered more than a quarter of the base’s aircraft noncompliant. The situation was further stressed by a major storm on the horizon that would have left the jets defenseless if the repairs weren’t made immediately.

“Our Airmen, along with two engineers from Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, made the necessary repairs and returned the aircraft to fully mission capable status,” said Lt. Col. George Sherwood, 4th MXG deputy commander. “Our Airmen worked diligently from the Time Compliance Technical Order receipt straight through the weekend.”

Following the repairs, maintenance crews then turned their attention to thwart a different type of threat: Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

In coordination with the 916th Air Refueling Wing, the group expeditiously relocated more than 40 Strike Eagles and several hundred personnel to Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, within 48 hours of the initial decision. Concurrently, teams were dispatched to safeguard maintenance facilities from the historic cresting of the nearby Neuse River.

The weekend work that went recovering the jets and other assets is commonplace in the maintenance world in order to keep up with the high-octane operations tempo. The same can be said for TDYs and deployments. The group travelled far and wide to deliver on nearly a dozen TDYs throughout the year, including six back-to-back in support of deployments and combat training operations.

The globetrot continued as hundreds of maintainers spent half the year deployed with the 335th Fighter Squadron to Southwest Asia in support of OPERATION INHERENT RESOLVE. Thanks in large part to 24/7 operations from the grounds crew to keep the aircraft in prime condition, the Chiefs flew more than 9,250 combat hours and dropped upward of 2,000 bombs on various Islamic State of Iraq and Syria targets.

“We were out there in the heat day-in and out just to make sure that the [aircrew] were staying cool and the avionics were staying cool so they could put bombs on targets,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Keeling, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron engine specialist.

Despite all the obstacles the group faced in 2016, they were still able to stay ahead of schedule to the tune of around 650 sorties.

“The relentless work ethic and drive by the Airmen and NCOs in this section to not let the mission fail, regardless of the situation or how high the odds were stacked against this section or our fellow maintainers is a true reflection of our character,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Boudinot, 4th Component Maintenance Squadron aircraft fuel systems technician.

The outstanding character of the entire 4th MXG was recently on display during the 2016 Maintenance Professional of the Year banquet. The award winners are as follows:

Chief Master Sgt. Thomas N. Barnes Crew Chief of the Year

Staff Sgt. Tyler Danneker, 4th AMXS

Gen. Lew Allen Award

SNCO – Master Sgt. Richard Phillips, 4th AMXS

CGO – Capt. Brian Connolly, 4th AMXS

Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Outstanding Aircraft Maintenance Award

Amn – Senior Airman Fernando Ramirez, 4th AMXS

NCO – Tech. Sgt. Joshua Boudinot, 4th CMS

SNCO – Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Schroeder, 4th AMXS

CGO – Capt. Brian Connolly, 4th AMXS

FGO – Maj. John Ware, 4th EMS

Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Outstanding Munitions and Missile Award

Amn – Senior Airman Michael Brabson, 4th AMXS

NCO – Tech. Sgt. Brandon McBrayer, 4th MXG staff

SNCO – Master Sgt. Charles McDaniel, 4th EMS

CGO – 1st Lt. Ethan McMahon, 4th EMS

Maintenance Training Manager of the Year

Staff Sgt. Krystale Thomas, 4th MXG staff

Maintenance Scheduler of the Year

Amn – Airman 1st Class Ellen Derrick-Bonvenuto

NCO – Tech. Sgt. Jessie Metts

Load Crew of the Year

Staff Sgt. Josiah Seale, Senior Airman Mark Bonuelos, and Senior Airman Alexis Alpirez, 336th AMU

4th Fighter Wing Armament Troop of the Year

Amn – Senior Airman Richard Castilleja, 4th AMXS

NCO – Tech. Sgt. Kory Kling, 4th AMXS

SNCO – Senior Master Sgt. Joel Dickenson, 4th EMS

4th Fighter Wing Munitions Troop of the Year

Amn – Senior Airman David Reed, 4th EMS

NCO – Staff Sgt. Garylee Campos, 4th EMS

SNCO – Master Sgt. Richard Hetter, 4th EMS

Specialist Technician of the Year

Amn – Senior Airman Marcus Washington, 4th AMXS

NCO – Staff Sgt. Jonathan McKelvey, 4th AMXS

Backshop Technician of the Year

Amn – Senior Airman Nathan Ferrier, 4th CMS

NCO – Staff Sgt. Gary Holifield, 4th CMS

Maintenance Support Professional of the Year

Amn – Staff Sgt. Samantha Cooper, 4th CMS

NCO – Staff Sgt. Karen Fisher, 4th AMXS

SNCO – Master Sgt. Michael Mahaffey, 4th AMXS

Maintenance Professional of the Year

Amn – Airman 1st Class Nicole Ainsworth, 4th AMXS

NCO – Staff Sgt. Keith Raetz, 4th CMS

SNCO – Master Sgt. Steven Alldredge, 4th AMXS

CGO – Capt. Chloe Coleman, 4th AMXS

Flight of the Year

Fabrication Flight

Aircraft Maintenance Unit of the Year

335th AMU

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