Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Oct. 29, 2018

Crew Chief Green-Lights Career

By Staff Sgt. Levi Rowse 80th Aircraft Maintenance Unit

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- Extreme temperatures, dwindling daylight hours, and the looming threat of snow is the best way to describe his current working conditions. The job itself is so demanding that if the “newbies” aren’t told to eat, they’d work straight through lunch. It’s an endless stream of components that need to be checked, fixed, if necessary, and checked again; that’s what keeps the mission going. Welcome to the flight line. Welcome to the world of a crew chief in the United States Air Force.

Airmen don’t start out as crew chiefs; everyone is a civilian first and Staff Sgt. Mark Ward’s journey began just South of Knoxville, Tennessee. If you grew up there you’d know it as “Halls,” the map labels it Halls Crossroads. Ward describes it as a small town with too few jobs that pay enough to make a decent living. “Unless you are a scholarship-grabbing superstar in sports or academics, your future is student loan debt or doing something like pushing buggies (shopping carts) around for almost no pay and that’s not really living,” he said.

Ward’s choice to join the Air Force, in part, stemmed from wanting to see more of the world than what the U.S. had to offer. But more than that it was a tradition of service within his family which dates back generations. It was advice from family who’d served in the Marines that steered him towards the Air Force. “They take better care of their people,” is the line that had him talking to an Air Force recruiter not long after graduating high school.

Ward became Airman Basic Ward in 2011 and now holds the rank of Staff Sergeant. He’s happy with his Air Force decision and especially likes being a crew chief because he can work with his hands and isn’t too tied up behind a desk. The job has also allowed him to see some of the world. Japan and Korea have been the furthest from home so far.

“We go where the jets go,” said Ward. “They (jets and pilots) can’t fly without us and we wouldn’t have a job without them. Besides, pilots need heroes, too.”

Currently, Sergeant Ward is attached to the 8th Fighter Wing’s 80th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and temporarily deployed to Eielson AFB, Alaska, where he helped generate sorties during RED FLAG-Alaska 19-1 and Distant Frontier. RF-A serves as an ideal platform for international engagement and the exercise has a long history of including allies and partners, ultimately enabling all involved to exchange tactics, techniques and procedures while improving interoperability. Distant Frontier is a continuation of the training that RF-A provides allowing additional opportunities to execute detailed combat scenarios that can be more tailored to individual participating units.

Having served nearly eight years, Ward expects to continue his service through 20 years and see where else his job takes him. For the time being, he is happy with his place at Kunsan AB, particularly serving in the 80th AMU. “The 80th is the best AMU I’ve ever worked with,” he said. “The morale and comraderie at Kunsan is amazing … and we’re separated from loved ones in Korea, so these guys here really become your family.”

Like Us
Follow Us



Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group Returns to Homeport
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) returns to Naval Station North Island following a seven-month deployment, Aug. 11.The Abraham Lincoln, lead ship of the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, returned to Naval Air Station North Island after a deployment to U.S. 3rd and 7th Fleets in support of maritime security operations to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.
Aug. 12, 2022 - SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group (ABECSG) returned home Aug. 11, marking the end of a seven-month deployment to U.S. 3rd and 7th Fleet area of operations.The strike group’s flagship, Nimitz-class...

Pacific Air Forces Provide Aid through Pacific Angel
Aug. 12, 2022 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The U.S. will deploy a U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Medical Support and health response team to Subang Air Base, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to promote interoperability of regional...

Bilateral Runway Repair Enhances Partnerships
Japan Air Self-Defense Force 3rd Air Wing personnel outline an area to excavate in order to repair damage during Rapid Airfield Damage Repair training at Draughon Range, Japan, Aug. 3, 2022. U.S. and Japanese partners worked alongside each other repairing the craters while observers from both countries took notes on the difference in procedures.
Aug. 12, 2022 - MISAWA AIR BASE, AOMORI, Japan -- Members of the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron (CES) and Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) 3rd Air Wing counterparts participated side-by-side in a live-fire and rapid airfield damage repair...

Osan Activates Fighter Generation Squadrons
Airmen assigned to the 25th Fighter Generation Squadron perform preflight checks on an A-10C Thunderbolt II at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, June 23, 2022. The 25th Fighter Squadron and newly activated 25th FGS work together to prepare for and execute close air support missions in defense of the Republic of Korea and regional stability.
Aug. 12, 2022 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Osan Air Base recently activated two new Fighter Generation Squadrons (FGS). The 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron made way for the 25th and 36th FGS, activated to support and maintain...

U.S. Supports Bangladesh’s Launch of Pediatric COVID-19 Vaccination Campaign
The U.S. Embassy joined the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the Ministry of Education and international partners to launch Bangladesh’s national campaign to vaccinate children between ages 5-11 with pediatric doses of U.S.-donated Pfizer vaccines.
Aug. 12, 2022 - DHAKA, U.S. Embassy in Bangladesh -- Today, U.S. Ambassador Peter Haas joined Health Minister Zahid Maleque and Education Minister Dr. Dipu Moni to launch the national campaign to administer U.S.-donated Pfizer pediatric...