EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Maintenance Airmen with the 35th Fighter Wing, Misawa Air Base, Japan, are applying their maintenance skills and knowledge during exercise RED FLAG-Alaska 19-1 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Oct. 4 to 19.
Due to the vast air space and minimal limitations in Alaska, Airmen have the opportunity to put their developed maintenance skills and aircraft understanding to the ultimate test during this exercise.
“This exercise is the best training our pilots and maintainers can receive,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cody Fugate, a 13th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief. “I appreciate the fast-paced tempo because I can take this work ethic back to my home duty station. Despite being in a new place with new faces, which can be an adjustment, I know being here is important because it gives me a chance to expand my skill set.”
Although it may not be ideal to leave the comfort of one’s duty station, that uprooting is giving Misawa Airmen an opportunity to conduct training in a joint and multilateral environment, which can lead to an invaluable and unforgettable experience, said U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Joseph Stainford, the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 sergeant major.
“It's very unique to have 50 to 60 aircraft in the sky with your allies,” Stainford continued. “This exercise allows us to conduct air-to-air sorties with our sister services and international counterparts in the biggest airspace the world has to offer. I commend the maintainers because their hard work and dedication to supporting the pilots makes this mission possible.”
From tactics and techniques to procedures and protocol, Misawa Airmen strive to remain resilient while working in a new location, despite Alaska’s various challenges.
“We are working against the elements here,” said Fugate. “The weather is harsh and something I have to work through daily. But as a crew chief, we don't give up, that's just not us. We always find a way to succeed and overcome obstacles.”
While conquering challenges and focusing on developing and improving his trade, Fugate keeps centered while he also finds solitude in exercise RF-A 19-1’s significance to America and strengthening relations with its allies.
“Knowing I had a hand in putting these jets back together makes me proud to be a Misawa maintainer,” expressed Fugate. “RED FLAG has taught me how to be quick, observant and how to adapt in a new work space. Without these types of exercises, we wouldn't be known as the world's greatest Air Force.”