Defense

April 10, 2013

Airman keeps squadron ‘in the fight’

Senior Airman Austin Stoker replenishes a .50-caliber machine gun after a training mission in Afghanistan, March 11, 2013.

When 26th Expeditionary Rescue Squadron HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters scramble for a casualty evacuation mission, the environment they are flying into is unpredictable.

Whether the environment is hostile or not, they always prepare for the worst – that’s where Air Force Senior Airman Austin Stoker comes in. The munitions systems specialist ensures the crews have the resources to fight if they have to.

“You have to be able to go into a combat area where people are dying and pull them out, and you need firepower to do it,” Stoker said. “Without it, there is no rescue and the crew isn’t coming back.”

Deployed from the California National Guard’s 129th Rescue Wing, Moffett Federal Airfield, Calif., Stoker and the 26th ERQS aircrew, maintenance and support teams augment a highly visible and important medical evacuation mission in Regional Command Southwest.

Air Force pararescue members, combat rescue officers, crew chiefs and gunners scramble when they get word that a coalition service member is injured and needs lifesaving assistance.

Air Force Lt. Col. George Dona, 26th ERQS commander, said without all the parts of the mission working, “the crews can’t fly, the helicopters won’t work, and the guns won’t shoot.”

“I need all of this to come together,” he added, “and I need it to come together on a moment’s notice.”

Dona said that so far, the support teams have delivered.

“They have more than just met the challenge — they have far exceeded the expectations that I had for the squadron,” he said.

Stoker’s role in the mission is important in ensuring the crews can defend themselves with the ammunition he maintains and provides.

“Our mission is to provide munitions support, from the smallest rounds to grenades, [including .50-caliber machine guns] and countermeasure flares used to keep the aircraft from being shot out of the skies,” the Stockton, Calif., native said.

Countermeasure flares help prevent projectiles from hitting the aircraft. Stoker said successful countermeasures sometimes are the only thing that ensures a crew makes it back from a rescue mission.

His daily duties include maintenance on ammunition systems, weapons compatibility checks, and inventory on stockpiles and expended rounds.

Stoker said maintaining an inventory is a large part of his job because the Air Force tracks 100 percent of its ammo.

“Every bullet is accounted for,” he said. “If you shoot a bullet, you better have a reason.”

After transitioning from active duty service to the Guard in 2011, Stoker said, he joined the 129th Rescue Wing with hopes to deploy more often.

Stoker said he has a strong respect for the rescue mission here, and for his coworkers.

“The pararescue mission is so dynamic,” he said. “The lives that they save, the humanitarian missions that they do, and just being a part of it all makes me feel very good about my day-to-day service.”

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

F-35 Lightning II costs drop, report shows

A recent account of F-35 Lightning II aircraft program costs shows decreases, the Air Force’s F-35 program executive officer told reporters in a media roundtable March 24, 2015. Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, citing this year’s selected acquisition report on the aircraft, called the roundtable to clarify cost and performance facts. He also acknowledged the...
 
 
Navy photograph by Monica McCoy

Navy conducts production acceptance test of Tomahawk missile

Navy photograph by Monica McCoy Members of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division team at Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head prepare a Tomahawk missile for a functional ground test at the Large Motor Test Fa...
 
 
af-launch1

9th-generation GPS satellite blasts off from ‘The Cape’

ULA photograph A United Launch Alliance Delta IV rocket launches the GPS IIF-9 satellite for the Air Force March 25, 2015, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex-37.   The 45th Space Wing, Cape Cana...
 

 
JSF1

Edwards joint maintenance team completes significant JSF propulsion verification event

Lockheed Martin photograph by Tom Reynolds A joint team of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy maintainers, DOD employees and Pratt and Whitney contractors work on an F135 engine March 17 as part of a week-long to provide verified tec...
 
 

F-35 aircraft costs drop, report shows

A recent account of F-35 Lightning II aircraft program costs shows decreases, the Air Force’s F-35 program executive officer told reporters in a media roundtable March 24. Air Force Lt. Gen. Christopher C. Bogdan, citing this year’s selected acquisition report on the aircraft, called the roundtable to clarify cost and performance facts in the latest...
 
 
Army photograph

First unit fields Apache-Shadow combo

Army photograph An RQ-7B Shadow v2 prepares to launch. Manned-unmanned operations using helicopters linked with unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, have been used by the Army for a number of years. However, no single unit has ev...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>