Trading places: EOD and load crew members swap jobs
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Airmen from the explosive ordnance disposal flight and weapons load crew section swapped jobs here June 23 and 25.
The exchange provided the Airmen a chance to tour each other's facilities, use their equipment and learn about one another's daily duties.
"This opportunity allows us to see what else goes on in the Air Force," said Staff Sgt. Brandon Elmore, 35th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron lead load crew member. "It helps people be a lot more open-minded to other jobs and career fields."
For the weapons loaders, the day included physical and introductory training that encompassed the vast amount training required of 35th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD members.
"EOD flights are equipped to conduct or support 10 different mission areas," said Staff Sgt. Justin Beasley, 35 CES EOD technician. "Among these are munitions, combating weapons of mass destruction, nuclear weapon response, mortuary services, and defense support to civil authorities. We went over these mission sets, showed them how to get in the bomb suit, use the robot and our x-ray systems."
EOD technical school combines a preliminary school and the Naval School Explosive Ordnance Disposal for a minimum of nine months and three weeks.
"They do a lot more than I thought," said Elmore. "They're constantly training. With their job, there's a lot that goes on in the field so they're always coming up with new things to learn. This experience has changed my scope on what EOD does."
For their daily duties, 35 AMXS load crew members conduct load training, maintenance and troubleshooting for aircraft weapons systems. In turn, the maintainers were able to show EOD their daily mission of loading weapons onto F-16 Fighting Falcons.
"The first thing we did was prepare to load or download the F-16 Fighting Falcon gun," said Senior Airman Robert Dickinson, 35 AMXS load crew member. "We took the EOD Airmen to our back shop and showed them pieces of the gun, which is another side of our job that maintains and checks munitions. We also showed them the wiring harness which is where all the weapon's power runs through."
In order to become load crew members, Airmen go through a technical school that specializes in the fundamentals and munitions of one aircraft. After completing this training, they are able to work on other aircraft after gaining more in-depth, on-the-job training to ensure they are prepared to load munitions safely and properly.
"Getting to load the weapons for myself and seeing the work that's behind it was my favorite part of today," said Senior Airman Alexander Thompson, 35 CES EOD technician. "On our end of the spectrum, it's either dealing with a weapon that accidentally dropped or was improperly loaded and now we get to actually see how the load process is done for ourselves."
Due to the explosive nature of their job, EOD is on standby in case an issue arises while the maintainers are loading weapons to an aircraft.
"They're the guys who load the bombs on the aircraft whereas we're the guys they call when emergency situations happen with the bombs," said Beasley.
Beasley hopes job swaps will continue across Misawa, and help Airmen understand how every career field comes together to complete the 35th Fighter Wing mission.