A first sergeant's pride

Master Sgt. William Garcia, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant

Master Sgt. William Garcia, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- It was about 11 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12, 2016, when I decided to get up from behind my desk and do something for my maintainers. It was a chilly day, so I figured hey, why not bring them something to keep them warm on this very cold morning. I grabbed some hand warmers to hand out to them while they were out on the flight-line working in what I would consider frigid conditions! So I put on my fleece jacket, APECS, gloves, reflective belt and finally as I stepped outside, my green fleece hat.

Once outside, the cold air confirmed it, the weather conditions were deplorable, and if I read the weather forecast correctly, the wind chill factor made it feel like a warm 13 degrees Fahrenheit. So I continued my long journey up and down the flight line. As you may imagine, a large parking ramp is required to accommodate the Air Force's largest aircraft, the C-5M Super Galaxy, and the not so small neighbor the C-17A Globemaster III. During my journey, I met about 25 or so of my maintainers that were actively working in these elements. Some of them accepted my hand warmer offering and thanked me, some did not, which in my mind is crazy. So once I visited all of the jets that had maintainers either working scheduled maintenance or repairing non-mission capable discrepancies, I turned around and started to head back to my warm office.

As I began my journey back, into the airstream this time, with the wind pounding my head, my flight line access badge flying all over the place, I could not help but notice something, that no matter how cold it was outside, how hard the wind was blowing; nothing would prevent our maintainers from getting their job done! They were not huddled up, hiding from the elements trying to keep warm or complaining about having to be outside in these conditions. They were on their knees, on that cold concrete slab changing landing gear tires, working on engine faults and relocating pieces of support equipment  to make sure those marvels of aerospace ingenuity were ready to project global reach to all the corners of the globe.

Being a first sergeant here at Dover was my first introduction to the aircraft maintenance world, for other non-maintenance or "non-ers" like me, the most I knew about them was this, when an aircraft system malfunctioned, they fixed it, end of story. It is not until you see these professionals in their oil soaked uniforms, turning wrenches in whatever condition the Air Force or Mother Nature throw at them, that you begin to appreciate and admire the work they accomplish day-in and day-out. 

As a first sergeant, you come to the realization "getting the job done" in any condition is not exclusive to the aircraft maintenance career field. It is something that is accomplished throughout our Air Force on a daily basis, because we employ professional Airmen. As first sergeants and unit leaders we must remain visible, we have a responsibility and an opportunity to support those who inspire us, and thank them for all that they do.