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September 7, 2012

Heat, grime combine for the dirtiest jobs

Airman 1st Class Logan Wygal, 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle mechanic, washes a MB-4 tow tractor at the wash rack.

There are many types of jobs at Luke Air Force Base, from office jobs to veterinary services. Many of the jobs that keep Luke running can get a person pretty dirty, but someone has to do them.

Every day we hear the “sound of freedom” overhead. But who are the ones that keep the jets up, running and lethal in order to complete the mission of training the world’s greatest F-16 fighter pilots and maintainers? The 56th Maintenance Group maintainers, which includes crew chiefs, jet engine mechanics, aircraft armament system technicians, munitions system technicians, aerospace ground equipment technicians and countless others combine to get the job done. They deal with the everyday upkeep, building and loading of munitions, and caring for the equipment on the ground, sometimes very dirty jobs.

The maintainers keep the jets serviced but the 56th Logistics Readiness Squadron Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant Flight keeps them fueled. POL not only keeps the jets fueled but also deals with receiving, transferring and storing petroleum products on base. The dirtiest part of their job is keeping their vehicles serviced, which the majority of the work they do themselves.

Senior Airman Thomas Batzer, 309th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, drains hydraulic fluid in order to change the shock strut on an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

“Our job is important because without fuel, pilots would be pedestrians,” said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Simmons, 56th LRS NCO-in-charge of mobile distribution.

There are numerous government vehicles on base, and at some point they all need fixing. The 56th LRS Vehicle Maintenance Flight takes care of every aspect of the vehicle. From under the hood to the exterior, they do it all. But as you can imagine it can get pretty dirty. They work with grease, lubricants, oil, brake fluid, paint and grime in general.

Now we definitely don’t want to suggest the 56th Force Support Squadron dining facility is dirty, but it can be a pretty messy place to work at times. They handle food preparation from start to finish, and of course tons of cleaning after each meal. They have to prepare raw meats and deal with plenty of grease splatter from cooking.

Although they don’t look like they have a dirty job, don’t let their appearance fool you. The 56th Medical Support Squadron medical laboratory deals with anything and everything that comes out of the body. They deal with blood, urine, feces, semen, and saliva – anything associated with the body. They also harvest bacteria and diseases that can be found in a person’s body.

But, those with the dirtiest jobs are the ones who deal with all the stuff that goes down the toilet or sink. Everyday 500,000 to 600,000 gallons of sewage and waste pours into the Luke off-base waste water plant. After the sewage water goes through the plant and is properly filtered, it is reused to irrigate plants and grass on base and at Falcon Dunes Golf Course.

“We recycle the waste which helps the environment,” said Senior Airman Josh Billett, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron water and fuels system maintenance technician. “If it wasn’t for the plant, the base would have expenses in both sewage removal and irrigation.”




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