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NEWS | June 17, 2015

Munitions airmen provide means for combat airpower in Afghanistan

By By Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan, June 17, 2015 – Munitions airmen assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron here make an impact by building the weapons needed for the combat airpower mission.

Every bomb loaded onto an F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft here comes from the munitions flight of the 455th EMXS.

“Our work here directly affects the entire wing; without munitions it’s hard to complete the combat airpower mission here,” said Staff Sgt. Luis Soto, 455th EMXS Munitions Flight conventional maintenance/precision guided munitions production superintendent. “We provide the munitions for aircraft to provide support for the ground troops or to hit targets that need to be taken care of.”

A critical part of their job here is to inspect each munition to ensure it will perform as expected when used.

“With the weather changing here often, we have to make sure all the components on the inside have not been affected by the environment,” said Soto. “The only way to do that is to tear down the bombs and inspect all the components to make sure they are still working. Then we build it back up and test the munition as a whole to make sure it can do what it is meant to do.”

“It’s important to inspect the munitions because we rotate crews every six months, and we need to make sure all munitions are serviceable and function correctly when dropped,” said Senior Airman Michael Rose, a conventional maintenance crew chief.

Being in a combat environment allows the munitions airmen to put their training to the test.

“Coming to Bagram and being able to apply all our knowledge and what we have learned at (our home station),” said Soto. “It’s nice to see a trailer leave with munitions and come back empty. At the end of the day those munitions could have saved soldiers or hit targets that needed to be destroyed.”

“This is my second time here, and it is definitely more fulfilling than a training mission,” said Rose. “We are actually out here doing something. The bombs go out there, and they don’t come back. The best part is working with the team here, making sure everything is good and that we are supporting the mission and protecting lives.”