By Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Aircrew Flight Equipment specialists at the 302nd Airlift Wing maintain and inspect all of the survival equipment associated with and on the Air Force Reserve Command’s 12 C-130H aircraft assigned here. This includes aircrew headsets and helmets, parachutes, flotation equipment survival vests, body armor and anything else that helps with aircrew survival.
This responsibility could mean the difference between life or death for the approximately 250 aircrew members assigned here. And for 2013, the AFE Airmen assigned to the 302nd AW were recognized for their top-notch performance as they were named the Aircrew Flight program of the year.
“I am extremely proud of the Airmen in the OSS [Operations Support Squadron] Aircrew Flight Equipment section. Their professionalism, dedication, and excellence is aptly reflected in having been recognized by AFRC, says Lt. Col. Christopher Lay, OSS commander in 2013.
“It probably has to do with our overall inspection rate, awards that we have won, both individual and unit awards and how we contribute to our career field,” said Senior Master Sgt. Bill Schultheis, AFE superintendent and Air Reserve Technician.
Schultheis also attributes the unit’s recognition to the successful integration with the Active Duty members of the 52nd Airlift Squadron that joined the team in October 2009. “And a lot of it, I think, would have to do with our merger with active duty. I like to think we are the benchmark for what we do for Total Force Integration. We’ve had a real nice melding of Reserve and Active Duty. I think it’s been a real smooth transition for both sides. A lot of units call us for guidance and how we do things and overcome problems. I think we have knocked our program up a notch by having active duty here.”
“Their success can easily be attributed to the unique contributions that every member of the section brings to this organization…be they an ART, an Active Duty member, or a traditional reservist,” said Lay.
Just having a blend of personnel does not guarantee a success. It is also dependent on what each individual brings to the unit in terms of attitude and willingness to be a part of the program that also sets this team apart.
“People want to be here. Everybody that’s here really takes pride in what they are doing. They like working here. It’s a big team concept. It’s fun because everybody works together with a common goal. Everybody pulls together to make the program successful,” said Schultheis, an approximately 20-year veteran of the career field.
According to Schultheis, the teamwork concept does not stop at the unit level. AFE units share ideas amongst each other and share information to make everyone successful. “It’s a family oriented career field.”
And now that that they are at the top of their game, what is next? “We’ve been real successful with what we’ve been doing so we’d like to keep doing the same thing,” said Schultheis.