301 FW AMXS wins AFRC outstanding weapons load crew award

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Randall Moose
  • 301st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Three Airmen from the 301st Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintenance Squadron were recognized as the best load crew in the Air Force Reserve Command winning the AFRC Outstanding Weapons Load Crew of the Year Award. The award is presented to the weapons load crew that exemplifies professionalism and demonstrates outstanding achievement in performance of all aspects of their duties. 

Tech Sgt. Michael Curtis, 301 FW AMXS one man, Senior Airman Ronald Cook, 301 FW AMXS two man, and Senior Airman Justin Tills, 301 FW AMXS three man, were this year’s recipients.

“To win this, even once in your career, is rewarding,” said Cook. “It’s a lifetime achievement.”

This team also won the 301 FW weapons loading competition held here last January. During that competition, they competed against three other F-16 load crews consisting of Active Duty and Reserve Airmen. Besides the written exam they took to demonstrate their knowledge, the competition incorporated speed, safety and accuracy putting their expertise to the test.

 “The time limit is added to increase pressure. Just like a combat situation, we would not have all day to get the munitions on that aircraft,” said Curtis. “We have a saying, slow is smooth. Smooth is fast. I have seen a lot of people go out there and rush. They might look fast, but in doing so they may miss things. Then have to go back and redo those things. So, it ends up not being fast at all.”

The teams are divided into three roles, (titled the one, two and the three man positions) with each crew member completing their respective responsibilities.

“The one man runs a technical order,” said Curtis. “It has the steps for everything for every position in a crew. It has everything from aircraft prep, to munitions prep, to station prep. It also has load prep and post-load steps.”

“The two man makes sure that the aircraft is grounded and safe,” Cook said. “They ensure that the weapon loading systems are in order, by adjusting slack, inspecting hooks, or double-checking connections. They then play a part in positioning the weapons into place on the aircraft.”

“The three man oversees the munitions, inspecting for defects,” Curtis added. “They also inspect the card, a small explosive atop the munition. The card explodes to propel the munition away from the aircraft.”

This team demonstrated how each proficient Airmen can combine together to be a force multiplier.  

“We never loaded together before the competition. Ever,” said Curtis. “We got together about an hour and a half before the load to game plan… the entire loading process, start to finish. Communication was key and it was a total team effort.”

The 301st Fighter Wing mission is to train and deploy combat-ready Airmen. This competition showcases the attention to detail, diversity of skills and thousands of training hours these Reserve Citizen Airmen put in every day to improve readiness and provide airpower in our nation’s defense.

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