SOUTHWEST ASIA - Saturday afternoon, three maintainers from the 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron were presented with Army Achievement Medals at the flightline at The Rock in Southwest Asia for outstanding performance of their mission.
The maintainers were responsible for structural and composite repairs on a dozen AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters during the past month.
The three Air Force Airmen, Tech. Sgt. Abel Rodrigues, Staff Sgt. Justin Costanzo and Senior Airman Loren Martinez, were presented with their medals by Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shawn Bryan, Bravo Company 3-159th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion test pilot, who deployed here in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
"Without you, we wouldn't be able to do our jobs due to broken aircraft. There are many maintainers who don't see the big picture," said Bryan. "Because of the support your shop has provided to us, we can continue our mission to provide support for those on the ground."
With a need to get maintenance accomplished, but being geographically separated from an Army maintenance unit, Bryan chose to reach out to the Air Force. He was able to get the help of the maintainer team and by doing so saved valuable time.
"The AH-64Ds had structural concerns that required the input and repairs from our in-house resident experts," said Tech. Sgt. John Fratangelo, 386th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron metals shop chief. "Our team here at the structural airframe shop and the metal technology shop worked hand in hand to accomplish flightline maintenance on the AH-64D Apache aircraft."
Rodrigues from La Palma, California, Costanzo from Washingtonville, New York and Martinez from Baldwin Park, California, deployed from the 146th Airlift Wing, Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, California. Rodrigues said that he understood the timeline that they needed to work within and the importance of the mission.
"The horizontal stabilaters on the AH-64Ds had numerous loose rivets that had to be replaced so the aircraft could fly its missions," said Rodrigues, an aircraft structures technician. "We also fabricated new composite panels to replace the damaged ones. It was difficult to get new parts, not to mention the cost."
Working in metals requires precision, skill and patience and the ability to approach a problem in new and innovative ways. Before the team could work on the AH-64Ds, Martinez and Costanzo used Army blueprints to make a set of tools.
The team worked on damaged panels that required heavy fiberglass repair, said Martinez, an aircraft metals technician. They drilled, riveted, and repaired multiple airframe brackets that were damaged and removed multiple screws that were stuck to the panels.
"The most important thing is that we are now mission ready. To the Soldier on the ground, heavy air weapons bring a sense of calm, multiplying his confidence," said Bryan. "It allows him to think straight and shoot straight."
||BALDWIN PARK, CA, US
||LA PALMA, CA, US
||WASHINGTONVILLE, NY, US
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