Clank, clank, clank.
Emilio Coronado wiped the sweat from his eyes as he turned the wrench a few more clanks.
Whew! The Tucson native finally finished a long afternoon of car maintenance.
Now, over eight years later, the clank, clank, clank continues as the new sound of airpower for the U.S. Air Force.
“My job is loading all explosives on and off the A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft,” said the Senior Airman assigned to the 354th Fighter Generation Squadron as an weapons load crew member. “We do this to support pilots in their combat training.”
Loading and unloading ammunition onto an aircraft is a task usually reserved for non-commissioned officers, but as a checklist qualified Airman, Coronado is entrusted with leading higher and lower ranking Airmen in explosive related operations.
“Senior Airman Coronado has a ton of experience,” said Master Sgt. Lance Connell, 354th FGS weapons section chief. “We rely on him as our subject matter expert for the A-10s, and he trains NCOs and other Airmen.”
To keep his competitive edge, the Tucson High Magnet School graduate sought opportunities to expand his capabilities by volunteering for a deployment outside of his primary daily job.
For seven months, Coronado was deployed in Qatar, where he monitored host nation contractors while they performed construction, maintenance and services on the deployed base.
After returning from his deployment in January, Coronado said he learned leadership skills that he brought back to his shop. He and his team modernized a mechanical process, traditionally taking three hours to complete, to pass quality checks in less than 45 minutes. His efforts paid off as he achieved 2021 Load Crew of the Year, by placing first of approximately 45 other teams.
Armed with a new perspective, this multi-capable Airman now leads his shop to outthink, outmaneuver and outfight near-peer competitors, as Davis-Monthan preps for its participation in the Air Force’s New Force Generation deployment model as a lead wing.
“Right now, we are combat training in preparation for deployments,” said Connell. “No matter what, if these A-10s get deployed, our crew go with it.”
Under the AFFORGEN model, Davis-Monthan is one of five bases designated to champion this new deployment strategy.
The AFFORGEN concept supports the 355th Wing’s vision of building a warfighting team ready to FIGHT and is a necessary step in the prevailing future high-end conflict.
Additionally, DM flourishes its ability to rapidly deploy and fight from any new location from strong foundations benchmarked by Airmen like Coronado.
Coronado’s dedication to his job supports the pilots’ ability to be lethally trained and combat ready.
The next clank heard could be the future generation of weapons load crew members trained and inspired by Senior Airman Coronado.