No parts, no time, no problem: Yokota has it covered
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen with the 374th Maintenance Squadron provide the support that Yokota needs to operate as the airlift hub for the Western Pacific region. Their dedication and hard work keeps C-130 Hercules, C-12J Hurons and UH-1N Hueys in the air and ensures the capability to provide professional airlift at any time. The training they have received can be applied to more than just aircraft, however, as shown by the 374th MXS pneudraulics section.
During an inspection of the USS Fitzgerald, a destroyer with the U.S. 7th Fleet, it was discovered that three fuel lines had been damaged. No replacement parts were available and the Navy did not possess a local repair capability to reproduce the parts. It would have taken three months for requisition and supply to deliver the parts had they not contacted their sister service at Yokota.
Staff Sgt. Scott Thompson, 374th MXS pneudraulics section NCO in charge, rose to the occasion. After determining the part would need to be fabricated from scratch, Thompson utilized his ten years of experience and resources on hand to recreate the damaged fuel lines.
"It didn't really matter that the part was for a ship instead of an aircraft," said Thompson. "It was just another day in the shop for us; we had a job to do, so we did it."
The main difficulty faced by the maintainers was the 90-degree fitting used by the Navy that is not used in the Air Force. Adapting to the demands of the mission, Thompson called on the expertise of the 374th MXS metals technicians to fabricate a 90-degree hardline so the Air Force standard fittings could be connected to the hydraulics hose.
"We worked late that night, but once we tested the parts and sent them out, the Fitzgerald was able to set sail in just a few hours," Thompson said.
For their devotion to duty, the members of the pneudraulics section were awarded a letter of appreciation from Cmdr. Jonathan Schmitz, USS Fitzgerald commander.
"This is just one example of the kind of critical 'adapt and overcome' scenarios Pacific heroes work through every day," said Master Sgt. Edward Silversmith, 374 MXS accessories flight chief. "It is also a great reminder that although the daily duties of a technician do not seem to span beyond the task at hand, they reserve the skills and ability to immediately adjust as mission requirements dictate."
According to Silversmith, Thompson is one of many 'back shop' technicians keeping PACAF at the forefront of readiness.