445th Fabrication Flight wins Reserve Command award

  • Published
  • By Amanda Dick
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 445th Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight won Maintenance Section of the Year in the 2022 annual Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Thomas N. Barnes, Armament Systems, Munitions and Major Command Unit Awards.

The winners were announced April 17 by Air Force Reserve Command Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection director Brig. Gen. Stacey L. Scarisbrick.

“We’re really excited about it,” said Maj. Bjorn Langefeld, 445th MXS commander. “It’s a big deal for us and represents Wright-Patt well, represents the squadron well and shows all the hard work they’re doing every day to make the mission happen.”

As part of the awards package, the flight was judged based off five categories: noteworthy maintenance accomplishments; outstanding contributions to the Air Force and unit mission; contributions to cost reduction, process improvement and suggestion; management and care of facilities and equipment; and other significant accomplishments.

“I’m proud of them,” said Chief Master Sgt. Clifton Griffie, 445th MXS senior enlisted leader. “It’s a really great accomplishment for MXS as a whole and for the fab flight. Those guys have really busted their butts over the last year, and it culminated in that package.”

For Senior Master Sgt. Nicholas Garman, 445th MXS Fabrication Flight chief and the one who submitted the package for consideration, this award was about more than what they had accomplished over the year; it was about everyone who built the foundation.

“This is a culmination of a lot of groundwork that was laid years and years ago,” Garman explained. “We’re reaping the benefits of a lot of hard work that was put before, and I think really that’s why our package was so strong. Not necessarily for my writing ability, but that there is a lot of good solid material that obviously couldn’t be overlooked.”

One of these projects was for semi-prepared runway operations clips. Pilots conduct SPRO operations by landing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft on dirt runways or those that haven’t been improved upon.

According to Garman, the clips are placed on the front of the inboard landing gear doors to provide more protection than the aircraft currently has.

“This is kind of an alternative method; it’s not really the standard,” Garman added.

Garman said he knows some active-duty units have implemented the clips, but as far as AFRC, he believes the 445th is leading the way in making the decision to use the SPRO clips.

Garman said once the decision was made at the group level the planning began. The fabrication flight had to design the fixturing, manufacture the clips and figure out how to install them.

“It was a whole team process on executing something that had not been done before which is going to increase our capabilities,” he said.

Garman added the clips have been installed on the unit’s C-17s, anywhere from six months to a year, depending on the aircraft. Since then, they have seen the effects of damage being prevented, safeguarding $2.3 million in component costs.

According to the nomination package, the fabrication flight also completed 128 vital inspections, 186 repairs and 31 local manufacture requests in 2022, supporting the 2,700 sorties flown over 9,600 hours throughout the year. In addition, their expedited after-hour repair of an E-4 Nighthawk hardware allowed an on-time departure for the Secretary of Defense’s mission.

Other big projects included securing $500,000 for a Blast Booth that protects the sustainment of a $7.9 million aerospace ground equipment fleet and coordinating an alternative installation plan for a $200,000 Dye Penetrant inspection line that eliminated a three-year gap in capabilities done at a 90% savings to the wing.

To top it off, everything was accomplished while relocating back to their original work building after a renovation to decontaminate and modernize the space where they had no work stoppages and zero delays in production.

“I hope they understand that their hard work, and everything they do, doesn’t go unrecognized and that they’re getting to see that at a higher level,” Langefeld said about the fabrication flight. “I think we work pretty hard here locally to let all our members in MXS know how much they do to contribute to the mission. But I think that’s going to really amplify that by seeing where it’s recognized at all the way at the major command level.”

The fabrication flight consists of three work centers: aircraft sheet metal maintenance (SCMO), metals technology (MTECH) and nondestructive inspection (NDI).

The flight consists of 13 full-time employees and more than 30 part-time employees that includes a civilian, active guard reserve members, air reserve technicians and traditional reservists.