by Senior Airman Melissa B. White 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs 8/30/2010 – KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) — Members of a munitions flight here are tasked with building bombs.
It’s a job some might take for granted, or a thought that will never cross the minds of others. ‘Most people seem to think that bombs actually come preassembled, but these Airmen are out here building them with their hands,’ said Master Sgt. Robert Brown, a munitions systems specialist assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Munitions Flight at Kandahar Airfield. ‘People don’t know what it takes to put the bombs together, but we’re out here on a daily basis working around explosives.’
Staff Sgt. Misty Lowe tightens the super bolt while Airman 1st Class Anthony Anderson holds the bomb in place Aug. 23 at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan. Sergeant Lowe and Airman Anderson are munitions systems specialists with the 451st Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Munitions Flight. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Chad Chisholm)
Even though others might look past jobs like theirs, these Airmen understand the importance of their jobs. ‘I think this job has a direct result on the warfighting capability,’ said Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Smartt, a conventional maintenance crew chief with the 451st EMXS. ‘Whenever we build these bombs and the aircrews expend them, we’re taking care of the enemy. It’s satisfying to have such a large impact on the mission.’
Since arriving here in May with the A-10 Thunderbolt II squadron, this munitions flight has supported seven different types of aircraft and built close to 200 bombs.
With at least one more month to go in the flight’s deployment, this group of Airmen has recently increased its bomb output compared to previous months.
‘It just depends on the tempo,’ Sergeant Brown said. The Taliban have stepped up their operations, so we stepped up ours, and we’ve adapted.’
In addition to building bombs, the ammo Airmen are responsible for inspecting all bomb components prior to building, and ensuring the parts don’t exceed the service life. Once they build the bombs, they then deliver the completed munitions to the flightline when needed.
‘It’s very time consuming, and it takes a lot of planning and preparation,’ Sergeant Smartt said.
Ammo Airmen are also responsible for replacing the expended 30 mm round ammunition tubes with new rounds for the A-10s. The Airmen have done this for tens of thousands of rounds throughout their rotation. They also build flares for the aircrews and rebuild them when necessary. ‘Without us they can’t complete their mission,’ Sergeant Brown said.
There is one thing that might be working against this group of Airmen: the heat. However, with temperatures regularly soaring above 110 degrees during summer months, they have found ways to cope with the conditions and work around them. ‘We usually build when it’s cooler– at night or at the beginning or end of the day — because, as you may notice, we don’t have a lot of shade,’ Sergeant Smartt said.
Nothing seems to be slowing them down as they work before sunrise, singing along to the music from the radio as they get the job done. ‘It’s the first time deploying for a lot of these Airmen, and the morale is good,’ Sergeant Brown said. ‘We’re here to complete our mission and to do it safely.’