Col. Case Cunningham, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing commander, joined CMSgt. Michael Ditore, 432nd Wg/432nd AEW command chief, for Ditore’s shadow an Airman initiative with the airmen of the 432nd Maintenance Squadron’s munitions flight April 27, 2016, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev.
Cunningham and Ditore assisted the airmen with building six inert GBU-12 laser-guided bombs to be used for MQ-9 aircraft training.
“Having Chief Ditore and Colonel Cunningham out to the bomb dump was a great and humbling experience,” said Amn. Andrew, 432nd Munitions flight crew member. “It’s a good feeling to work alongside them and know what I’m doing out here is important.”
According to 432nd munitions professionals, bomb building is far from easy. Cunningham and Ditore spent approximately two hours with the munition flight’s production section to perform the build.
“We briefed [Col. Cunningham and Chief Ditore] on safety before the flight, and explained every part of the build, every step of the way,” said Andrew. “We follow technical orders which tell us how to safely operate during specific builds.”
Staff Sgt. Adam, 432nd MXS munitions system specialist, worked side by side with the AMMO airmen and Creech leadership. He said the experience proved the airmen with a new perspective.
“The experience was very refreshing,” Adam said. “Our airmen work very hard on a daily basis and it becomes difficult to understand the ‘big picture’ in such a detail-oriented career field. The visit from Col. Case Cunningham and Chief Master Sgt. Ditore helped us all realize that the work done here gets noticed. It is incredibly important for our younger Airmen to know that their hard work is appreciated even at the wing level.”
Although building and transporting explosives is a big part of operations, munitions flight crew members do more than just that. The flight serves as a weapons and tactics liaison for the base, with responsibility for over 70,000 pounds of explosive weight to prove it.
Working with Ammo troops gave Cunningham and Ditore a clear view of just what it takes to build a laser-guided bomb. From turning wrenches to spray-painting numbers onto the units, they performed critical tasks to enable MQ-9 maintainers and aircrews to train to the MQ-9 mission of persistent attack and reconnaissance.
“It is such an honor to serve with such incredible professionals,” said Cunningham. “Whether it be at home in training or downrange supporting our combat mission sets, these Airmen are making a huge and positive impact on our national security.”
SMSgt. Barry, 432nd MXS munitions flight chief, said his unit is made up of highly motivated, strong Airmen who provide munitions to maintenance airmen who then load the weapons on the aircraft. He went on to say that supplying these munitions enables MQ-1 and MQ-9 precision strike capabilities.
“At the end of the day, knowing we are supplying the mission with usable weapons is what makes me proud to do my job,” said A1C Karen, 432nd MXS munitions flight crew member. “I can go home and feel accomplished with the work that I’ve done.”