NEWS | July 22, 2021

Kentucky Airmen sharpen maintenance skills in Puerto Rico

By Staff Sgt. Clayton Wear, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

CAROLINA, Puerto Rico – More than 130 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard completed a week of intensive aircraft maintenance training at Muñiz Air National Guard Base June 12-18, honing proficiencies in a joint field environment.

The annual event, called Maintenance University, featured classes on everything from changing the tires on C-130H Hercules aircraft to repairing sophisticated autopilot equipment, said Lt. Col. James Embry, commander of the 123rd Maintenance Squadron.

Citizen-Airmen from Kentucky’s 123rd Airlift Wing enhanced their C-130 maintenance skills before the unit’s transition to the C-130J while training alongside maintainers from the Puerto Rico Air Guard’s new contingency response group.

“The Puerto Rico Air Guard has provided a great location with a ramp that fits our requirements for training, classrooms, facilities, a fire response capability and security forces,” Embry said. “It’s a perfect environment for us to not only get our maintainers up to career field standards, but we can also expand upon our training into the contingency response environment.”

The curriculum was designed by shop chiefs to meet individual training needs while eliminating the competing obligations of a typical drill weekend back home.

“For those of us who are traditional Guardsmen, this is a really good opportunity for us to spend a week and focus solely on this training,” said Airman 1st Class Audrey Parios, a C-130 crew chief. “This is a great chance to have everyone in the same place to meet, network and learn from each other away from the distractions at home.”

Airmen from the Puerto Rico Air Guard’s 156th Wing appreciated training with maintainers from the Kentucky wing, which also is home to a contingency response group.

As the 156th works to stand up a full contingency response group in coming years, the 123rd was able to supply C-130s and CRG-qualified maintainers to train Puerto Rico maintainers on night-vision marshaling.

“It’s fortunate for us that the 123rd has a CRG with C-130 maintainers,” noted Col. Joelee Sessions, commander of the 156th Contingency Response Group. “When this crew comes here, they are bringing expertise from the CR world to help us train our folks.

“One of my goals is to get our maintainers and crew chiefs’ hands back onto aircraft, so they are fully familiarized so that when we go on the road as a CRG, they are comfortable handling the aircraft that come in and accomplishing the mission.”