EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE. Alaska -- Eielson Air Force Base received its largest munitions supply in years April 6-13, 2020.
Seeing this process through is the 354th Maintenance Squadron munitions flight which conducted their biannual receiving, inspection, and storing of munitions, known as a munitions barge.
“The purpose of the barge is to replenish Eielson AFB’s munitions stockpile for RED FLAG-Alaska, Distant Frontier aircrew training, 354th Fighter Wing aircrew training, and agencies at Eielson that utilize and train with munitions.” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. James Marsh, a 354th Munitions Flight conventional maintenance production superintendent.
The flight prepares for these barges months in advance to keep units such as the 354th Security Forces Squadron, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight and Tactical Air Control Party Airmen, armed and able to train.
“There is a tremendous amount of planning that goes into this by our supervision,” said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Hudalla, a 354th Munitions Flight conventional maintenance production superintendent. “Their planning puts the right players and pieces in the right places and allows us to knock this barge operation out of the park.”
With the upcoming arrival of the F-35 Lightning II, this spring’s barge is one of the biggest Eielson has seen in some time.
“A couple major differences are the sheer size of the shipment compared to previous years,” said 1st Lt. Sam Saunders, the 354th Munitions Flight commander. “It contains the initial munitions we’ll need for critical steps towards F-35 initial operational capability and full operational capability.”
The 354th Munitions Flight is not alone when it comes to accomplishing these complex barges.
“Like the old proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ it takes a base to execute a barge,” said Hudalla. “From (Logistics Readiness Squadron) being ‘Johnny on the spot’ fixing our forklifts and moving our empty intermodal containers (ISOs), to aerospace ground equipment and the 354th Civil Engineer Squadron providing us power, heat, and shelter, and all squadrons in between. It’s been all hands on deck.”