KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 18th Maintenance Group was awarded the 2022 Maj. Gen. Clements McMullen Memorial Daedalian Weapon Systems Maintenance Trophy at the Air Force level, distinguishing themselves as the U.S. Air Force unit with the best weapon system maintenance.
The trophy is presented annually to a wing-level Air Force unit determined to have the best weapons system maintenance record for the preceding calendar year. Kadena previously won this award in 1983, 1980 and 1966 as the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing.
“I love being a part of this awesome team,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Laura Goodman, 18th Maintenance Group commander. “There are a lot of amazing maintenance professionals doing really tough and demanding work in what can be a very challenging physical environment.”
During Fiscal Year 2022, the 18 MXG provided world-class maintenance and munitions support to Pacific Air Forces and U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.
“The hard work and dedication of my peers and leadership are the backbone of our success,” said Senior Airman Alexander Karr, 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron assistant dedicated crew chief. “It takes a team effort to accomplish our mission every day, and I’m proud to be a part of such a dedicated group of professionals.”
The group has five squadrons: the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 718th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 18th Equipment Maintenance Squadron, the 18th Component Maintenance Squadron and the 18th Munitions Squadron. It also includes 18th Maintenance Operations, a flight-level organization of over 150 people attached to the group.
“We focused our team efforts and resource prioritization on achieving effective mission accomplishment—that is to have aircraft, equipment, and munitions ready,” Goodman said. “We know we have to fulfill U.S. INDOPACOM requirements at a moment’s notice, and we are happy to know leaders are confident of our team’s capability to respond.”
A dedicated team of over 2,700 Airmen, civilians and contractors make up the 18 MXG.
“Being a member of a Daedalian Award-winning team is a great honor and a source of pride for us,” Karr said. “It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in the maintenance of our aircraft.
“It’s a feeling of accomplishment and recognition that we are doing something right, and it motivates us to continue to strive for excellence in our work.”
The 18 MXG maintains and mobilizes combat-ready F-15C and D Eagles, KC-135 Stratotankers, HH-60 Pave Hawks and E-3 Sentries as well as associated engines, munitions and support equipment.
“We also skillfully provide maintenance management, training, shared resources and logistics support to rotational fighter units, tenant units and theater partners,” Goodman said. “You probably wouldn’t find a more diverse and mission-focused team of maintainers.”
18 MXG team members attribute their victory over other Air Force maintenance groups to several factors.
“One of these factors is our culture,” Karr said. “The mission requires us to work closely with other sections and units, creating trust between peers that keeps us striving to be better.”
Other factors include Kadena’s unique location and mission, requiring the group to be adaptable and flexible in their approach to maintenance issues.
Additionally, the group’s maintainers retain U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s premier Tactical Air-munitions Rapid Response Package mission, trilateral engine Centralized Repair facility and the Air Force’s only active-duty Industrial Inspection and Analysis Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory.
“We count on every member to be successful in accomplishing our mission. We have professional instructors, inspectors, maintenance operation center (MOC) controllers, maintenance managers and leaders who are critical to preparing our members and coordinating our group efforts,” Goodman said.
The 18 MXG also successfully closed out its Flying Hour Program, exceeding the program for all airframes for the first time in history. This feat would not have been possible without an overarching focus on providing the right aircraft at the right time.
“The 18 MXG’s composition and design is changing rapidly. We are actively divesting F-15Cs and integrating rotational fighter generation capabilities into our team,” Goodman said. “Our ability to expertly organize, train, equip, and execute our mission in support of USINDOPACOM priorities will continue to be critical.”