Dover reorganizes for C-17 mission

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
  • 512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A ceremony here Feb. 4 marked the end of a 30-year run of Dover AFB's sole C-5 Galaxy mission and the beginning of a new era as the base prepares for the first of 13 C-17 Globemaster IIIs scheduled to arrive this summer.

Air Force Reserve Command's 512th Maintenance Group is reorganizing to accommodate the C-17 mission and align the group with a structure similar to the rest of the Air Force.

"Today brings about a new legacy, a new mission and a new challenge," said Col. Ronald A. Rutland, the 512th Airlift Wing commander. "The arrival of the C-17 will be a legacy of two wings and two maintenance groups (active duty and Air Force Reserve) coming together to get the mission done. It's known as Team Dover. It's how we do our business."

"Each aircraft in our U.S. Air Force's inventory requires highly skilled and disciplined men and women to fly them, to maintain them and to provide a wide variety of critical support to accomplish the mission," said Col. Willie W. Cooper II, the 512th MXG commander.

"The C-17 is the future of the Air Force, but all I know is the C-5," said Senior Master Sgt. Donald Kimball, a C-5 mechanic and flight chief with the 512th AMXS. Sergeant Kimball, who has been working on the C-5 since 1978, is one of 85 people who transferred from the C-5 maintenance unit to the newly activated 712th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "It's an exciting change for the base. For the Airmen who get to work on them, it's going to broaden their careers, and they'll gain some valuable knowledge."

Staff Sgt. Kevin Flowers, a C-5 mechanic for eight years and a reservist for six years, recently completed a six-week C-17 maintenance technical school at Charleston AFB, S.C. The 712th AMXS maintainer said he was enthusiastic about taking on the base's newest mission.

"I like change and look forward to it," he said. "There's a lot of new stuff to learn, and to be able to work on the C-17 and be part of a new squadron is a great opportunity."

The C-17 has newer technology, therefore it takes fewer people to maintain the aircraft, said Lt. Col. Gretchen Kurlander, the first commander of the 712th AMXS.

The C-5 unit, the 512th AMXS, has about 170 maintainers -- double that of the new C-17 maintenance squadron.

Staff Sgt. Oliver Crisp, a jet engine mechanic who is one of 300 maintainers now part of the 512th Maintenance Squadron, that supports the maintenance needs of the C-5 and the C-17, said he looks forward to working on the C-17 as well.

"It's fun to work on," he said. "It's like driving a new car."

"We are an Air Force of change," Colonel Rutland said. "If we don't change, we will not be the best Air Force in the world. Today is another change. That is our future, and we will change with it."

Previously, the 512th MXG consisted of an aircraft maintenance squadron, equipment maintenance squadron, component maintenance squadron and maintenance operations flight. The group works side-by-side its active-duty counterpart, the 436th MXG, to maintain the C-5.

The reorganization inactivated the 512th CMS, redesignated the 512th EMS as the 512th MXS and activated the 712th AMXS, which will assume the C-17 maintenance mission.

The reorganization transferred CMS people and their mission to the newly named 512th MXS, and half the people from the 512th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, which fixes and repairs the C-5, were reassigned to the 712th AMXS.

The active-duty's 436th MXG inactivated its CMS and merged it into MXS June 20, 2005. It will stand up its C-17 maintenance squadron, the 736th AMXS, this spring.

(Courtesy of Air Force Reserve Command News Service)