SOUTHWEST ASIA -- F-15E Strike Eagle pilots and weapon systems officers assigned to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing fly sorties around the clock conducting air-to-air and deep interdiction missions to combat ISIS and bring stability to the region.
The 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron plays a major role to ensure the jets are combat capable, particularly when it comes to bringing the fight.
“We assemble and maintain munitions including joint direct attack munitions, air-to-air missiles, 20 mm ammo, chaff and flares, anything with explosives,” said Staff Sgt. Kristofor Pohl, 332nd EMXS munitions inspector. “There are a lot of people who count on us. Pilots and ground forces rely on us to make sure these munitions function as intended. If we don’t do our job correctly the munition could malfunction. We don’t want that to happen.
“We’re very systematic about our job,” he added. “We follow all our technical data step-by-step. If you’re looking at the job fresh each time, you’re going to provide a good munition.”
The 332nd EMXS must build a variety of bombs to combat the wide range of threats throughout the area of operation.
“It just depends on the mission and what kind of target they’re trying to hit,” said Staff Sgt. Erik Thueme, 332nd EMXS conventional maintenance crew chief. “If the target is a hardened facility or the weather isn’t good, those are the types of factors that will determine which bombs are used.”
While the Airmen of the 332nd EMXS find satisfaction in seeing an F-15E take off with the munitions they’ve built, the real satisfaction comes from knowing the aircraft return without them.
“It’s actually the most fulfillment I’ve felt doing my job,” said Senior Airman Stefan Fleury, 332nd EMXS conventional maintenance crewmember. “Coming out here, building munitions and seeing them go out on trailers and not come back is probably the best feeling. Knowing they make a difference is definitely big for me.”
The difference the 332nd EMXS Airmen make can be felt throughout the region as airstrikes and the efforts of coalition partners continue to weaken ISIS on all fronts.
"For our ammunition builders, it doesn't get any better than this,” said Lt. Col. Kenneth Fetters, 332nd EMXS commander. “Our Airmen have the opportunity to see the impact of their labor first hand just by watching the news. Together, they have seen over 2,900 of their munitions be employed in the fight against ISIS and the liberation of once-held ISIS strongholds. The dedication they have put into learning and perfecting their craft is evident through the precision and consistency at which our aircrew can eliminate enemy targets. They are living an experience that they will be able to share with generations to come."