There are many levels of recognition for Airmen from unit level awards all the way up to Air Force level, and nothing is better than knowing your unit is at the top of the heap.
That is how the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron felt Jan. 25 when it was announced they had won the Air Force Maintenance Effectiveness Award for 2012. It is presented to the maintenance unit that has best met the objectives of providing safe, serviceable and available equipment for sustained use in peacetime and wartime.
“After winning at the group level, we submitted our package and won among the eight or nine Air Education and Training Command bases that qualify to vie for the award,” said Chief Master Sgt. Francisco Johnstone, 56th EMS Maintenance superintendant. “Then it was sent to compete against all the major commands.”
The EMS package covered each of the five flights within the squadron — aerospace ground equipment, munitions, armament, fabrication and maintenance. Each section was graded on four things — mission accomplishments, effective use of maintenance resources, innovative management accomplishments and personnel quality-of-life programs.
“We have more than 470 people in our five squadrons, and they all do amazing work,” Johnstone said. “It’s the day-in day-out work they do that helped us win. We submitted a large package for this award with four pages of bullets.”
Some of the mission accomplishments performed in 2012 by the 56th EMS included maintaining 138 of the Air Force’s oldest F-16s while overcoming a 30 percent reduction in manning. The ammo flight prepared more than 570,000 20mm rounds, 28 percent of the Air Force total. That’s more ammo fired than the Pacific Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Europe combined. They maintained the largest munitions area in AETC and had a 99.9 percent inventory accuracy rate.
“The quality of our technicians is amazing,” he said. “There are a lot of opportunities to make mistakes, and they just don’t do it. If there is a process in place they are always looking for a way to do it just a little bit better. All the stuff they do every day goes like clockwork so nobody sees it; the work just gets done. It’s our Airmen’s and civilians’ hard work and dedication that won the award; they each bring a wealth of knowledge to the squadron.