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.


 
 

 
Army photograph by John Andrew Hamilton

Improved Multiple Launch Rocket System tested at White Sands Missile Range

Army photograph by John Andrew Hamilton A Multiple Launch Rocket System with an improved armored cab fires a training rocket during a test. The rockets were simple training rockets and not equipped with a warhead, but still gen...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Christopher Callaway

AF Special Operations Command receives first AC-130J

Air Force photograph by Amn. Kai White A crowd gathers to view the inside of the Air Force Special Operations Command’s first AC-130J Ghostrider at Hurlburt Field, Fla., July 29, 2015. The aircrews of the 1st Special Operatio...
 
 
Marine Corps photograph by Cpl. Anne K. Henry

Marines: F-35B squadron ready for worldwide deployment

Marine Corps photograph by Cpl. Anne K. Henry An F-35B Lightning II prepares to taxi on the flight deck of the USS Wasp during night operations at sea as part of a Marine Corps operational test, May, 22, 2015. The Marines’ de...
 

 
Boeing photograph

CH-46 ‘Phrog’ makes its last hop

Boeing photograph The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter commonly known as the “Phrog,” is set to retire and to be flown one last time by Reserve Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 774 on Aug. 1. The CH-46 Sea Knight is a med...
 
 

Advanced Extremely High Frequency system achieves IOC

Gen. John Hyten, the Air Force Space Command commander, declared initial operational capability for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system July 28. The significant achievement reflects collaboration between numerous organizations, including Headquarters Air Force Space Command, the Space and Missile Systems Center, Army, Navy and the developers, Lockheed Martin and Northrup Grumman. The s...
 
 
Navy photograph

Surface-to-surface missile test for LCS successful

Navy photograph Three missiles from a ripple fire response strike their moving targets during an engineering development test of modified Longbow Hellfire missiles. The missile system, designated the Surface-to-Surface Missile ...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>