Team Travis maintenance - stronger together
By Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps, 349th Air Mobility Wing , 349 AMW
/ Published September 05, 2018
TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- It was a beautiful, clear day in Northern California as the sun beat down and reflected off the flightline at Travis Air Force Base. A cool delta breeze blew, cooling down Airmen from the 60th and 349th Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons as they circled around a C-5M Super Galaxy, ensuring it was ready to launch.
The two squadrons – one active duty, the other Reserve – work seamlessly together, busting knuckles, turning wrenches, and maintaining the aircrafts at Travis 24/7.
“I don’t know how you can tell the difference between the two,” said Senior Airman Kyle Lake, 60th AMXS crew chief.
Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Saenz, 60th AMXS production superintendent, came to Travis AFB as a brand new Airman in September 2000.
Working alongside Air Reserve Technicians from the 349th AMXS was critical to his success.
“I’ve been dependent on them throughout my career,” he said. “I don’t know what I would have done if I didn’t have them. I wouldn’t have learned half of what I know about these air frames.”
The ART’s primary job is to train, said Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Fejarang, 349th AMXS production superintendent.
They provide invaluable continuity to the maintenance world, Saenz added. While active duty Airmen will change bases or bounce around from shop to shop within the unit, 349th AMXS Airmen often stay in place and have been working on the same airframe at the same location, sometimes for decades.
For example, Saenz has been at Travis AFB, in the career field for 18 years, but not all of it turning wrenches.
On the other hand, the ARTs concentrate solely on aircraft maintenance, busting knuckles day and night, Fejarang said.
“We need them for training, their continuity is critical to our operations,” Saenz added.
The strength that each unit brings to the table is incredibly beneficial, Fejarang said. The fact that the active-duty crew chiefs will often rotate between flight line, back shops, various air frames, etc. brings an incredible breadth of experience to the team that allows the units to see the big picture.
Another key factor to their success is that many of the 349th crew chiefs actually transitioned from the 60th AMXS to be reservists, bringing along their active duty experience and knowledge, adding to the cohesiveness.
There is a lot of mutual respect between the active and Reserve maintainers, the only difference between the two is the chain of command, the production superintendents said.
Maintenance decisions are made between Fejarang and Saenz, who stay in constant communication with those on the flightline.
“Our guys don’t care if it’s a reservist or someone from active duty making those decisions because of that mutual respect,” Saenz said.
Communication and lack of ego have been the keys to making this work, said Fejarang.
“Back in the day, the active duty thought they were better than the reserve and the reserve thought they were better than active duty,” he elaborated. “But we squashed that a long time ago.”
They instill into the new members in their units that they are here to work with each other – they can’t do their jobs without each other, Fejarang said.