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.


 
 

 

Headlines April 18, 2014

Business: Lockheed to Lose 17 F-35s Under Automatic Pentagon Cuts - Pentagon will cut 17 of the 343 F-35 fighters it planned to buy from Lockheed Martin in fiscal 2016 through 2019 unless Congress repeals automatic budget cuts, according to a new Defense Department report. DOD looking for ways not to break MH-60R helo deal - The...
 
 

News Briefs April 18, 2013

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,177 As of April 15, 2014, at least 2,177 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. At least 1,802 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result...
 
 
LM-F35-hours

F-35 fleet surpasses 15,000 flying hours

The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fleet recently surpassed 15,000 flight hours, marking a major milestone for the program.  “Flying 15,000 hours itself demonstrates that the program is maturing, but what I think is e...
 

 
nasa-cassini

NASA Cassini images may reveal birth of new Saturn moon

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has documented the formation of a small icy object within the rings of Saturn that may be a new moon, and may also provide clues to the formation of the planet’s known moons. Images taken w...
 
 

NASA completes LADEE mission with planned impact on Moon’s surface

Ground controllers at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer spacecraft impacted the surface of the moon, as planned, between 9:30 and 10:22 p.m., PDT, April 17. LADEE lacked fuel to maintain a long-term lunar orbit or continue science operations and was intentionally sent...
 
 
Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Kepler telescope discovers first Earth-size planet in ‘habitable zone’

Photograph courtesy of NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech Kepler-186f resides in the Kepler-186 system about 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus. The system is also home to four inner planets, seen lined up...
 




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>