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    Airman Spotlight: Air Defender 2023

    Airman Spotlight: Air Defender 2023

    Photo By Senior Airman Janae Masoner | Staff Sgt. Aaron Masters, a crew chief with the 139th Maintenance Group, Missouri Air...... read more read more



    Story by Senior Airman Janae Masoner 

    139th Airlift Wing

    “It started when I was really young. I remember watching Pearl Harbor for the first time and I remember I turned to my friend’s mom and I said I wanted to be a Kamikaze pilot,” said Staff Sgt. Aaron Masters, a crew chief with the 139th Maintenance Group, Missouri Air National Guard.

    At his young age, Masters had no idea what a Kamikaze pilot was, but he knew he wanted to fly.

    His dream of being a pilot was soon reimagined as a dream of maintaining aircraft after he was unable to pass his flight physical. Being in the presence of the aircraft was the real dream for Masters.

    Masters' military career began eight years ago with the 131st Bomb Wing as a low observable structural maintainer on the B-2 Spirit aircraft. He spent six years maintaining outside components on the stealth bomber during his service there.

    He transferred to the 139th Airlift Wing as a crew chief a little over a year ago to gain more travel opportunities.

    “A crew chief is kind of like a swiss army knife,“ said Masters. “We do a little bit of everything.”

    Recently, Masters traveled to Germany to support the Air Defender 23 (AD23) exercise, the largest NATO exercise in history.

    “Over there in Germany was eye opening to work with all the different units and see how other units operate and learn things from them to help them out,” said Masters. “It was very team driven as far as ‘one team, one fight’, so if another unit needed help getting something done we were there to help them and vice versa.”

    On top of being the largest exercise in history, wings from the United States participating in AD23 were composed entirely of Air National Guard units from across the nation.

    “On the base that I was on there were 10 units from 10 different states, all Air National Guard, so we basically took 10 different units and made an entire wing out of it,” said Masters.

    The mission of AD23 provided Masters with many unique opportunities to expand his horizons and work with Airmen in different units.

    “It was also a really good opportunity to get to work with some of the other shops,” said Masters. “So a little bit outside of my normal job scope.”

    “It was great to get to know everyone, get to meet everyone and continue learning my job,” said Masters.

    On the civilian side, Masters works as a technical learning specialist at Honeywell.

    He explains how his military career assisted him in the civilian world despite the differences between the two careers.

    “Professionalism, integrity and just the quality of work that’s required to maintain aircraft all of those things transfer over,” said Masters.

    While Masters’ original dream of being a pilot didn’t become reality, he was able to pursue a similar path that allows him unique flying experiences.

    The little boy who knew he wanted to fly has been living that dream.



    Date Taken: 08.06.2023
    Date Posted: 08.06.2023 16:25
    Story ID: 450800
    Location: ST. JOSEPH, MO, US

    Web Views: 199
    Downloads: 0