JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska –
The dedicated crew chief and load competition to feature both U.S. Air Force installations in Alaska – Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base – took place on JBER, July 28, 2023.
The dedicated crew chief and load competitions are time-honored traditions which pit Airmen against each other in a test of skill, knowledge and readiness.
Typically, the DCC and load competition only included contestants within the Wing which included the 477th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, the 90th Fighter Generation Squadron, and the 525th Fighter Generation Squadron, all of whom work on the F-22 Raptors here on JBER.
However, this iteration of the competition has expanded to include the 356th Fighter Generations Squadron and the 18th Aggressor Maintenance Unit from Eielson Air Force Base, working on the U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning and F-16 Fighting Falcon respectively.
“Typically, it’s just the 477th, the 90th, and the 525th here at JBER, but now this is the All-Alaska,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Adam Willeford, senior enlisted leader of the 525 FGS. “We have Eielson with their F-35s and F-16s here with our F-22s and they’re going head-to-head to see who the best in Alaska is as far as load comp. Same with the DCC, we’re going to see who the best of the best of our crew chiefs are.”
The DCC portion of the competition tested crew chiefs of each squadron on their assigned aircraft, challenging them on their knowledge.
“The dedicated crew chief is assigned to the aircraft and they are the primary keeper for that particular tail number,” said Willeford. “They basically own the aircraft, they know the aircraft in and out, they’re responsible for [it]."
Following the DCC competition, the weapons crews faced off in their competition. At the signal, five weapons crews rushed to load their ordnance onto their carrier as judges followed and monitored.
When the final score was tallied, it was Staff Sgt. Christopher Ouellet, Senior Airman Joshua Hughes, and Airman 1st Class Joseph Williams of the 356th Fighter Squadron, Eielson AFB, who emerged victorious.
“I’m excited. Kind of shocked a little bit,” said Williams. “We didn’t have any time to prepare or practice loading, so it’s a very big shocker, I’d say.”
Dedicated crew chiefs Staff Sgt. Matthew Frady and Senior Airman Wayne Christian of the 356th Fighter Generation Squadron, Eielson AFB, won the DCC competition.
“It feels good. We put in a lot of work,” said Christian. “They were flying the jet all week so it’s really hard to keep it clean and when it came down to crunch time, we did our best and it worked out.”
Though the 356th Fighter Generation Squadron picked up both victories, it was a tight competition with all teams demonstrating their skill and knowledge and invigorating the crowd with their speed and precision.
“These competitions build morale. It builds competitiveness amongst our people,” said Willeford. “It gives bragging rights and everything, but it’s a friendly competition that helps showcase what we actually do: bring air power to the [Indo-Pacific Command] and [North American Aerospace Defense Command].”