If you ain't ammo...

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Anthony M. Ward
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
We all understand the importance of mission readiness in the Air Force. No matter what your Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) may be, you play a key role in ensuring the mission readiness in that field. The men and women of Holloman's 49th Maintenance Squadron munitions flight are no exception to that rule.

With approximately 158 Airmen preparing missiles, bombs, flares, chaffs and various sizes of firing rounds, munitions are always ensuring the mission readiness of F-22 Raptors, MQ-1 Predators and MQ-9 Reapers.

Responsible for the carrying and support of all ammunition of 34 on and off base accounts within 70,000 square feet of storage space, the ammo Airmen are in continuous support of mission readiness.

Before these Airmen are able to provide mission readiness support, they must first complete an eight-week course in technical school at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

"We take Airmen straight out of tech school," said Technical Sgt. Matthew Pitcher, 49th Maintenance Squadron non-commissioned officer in charge of precision guided munitions. "During tech school, Airmen will touch on the very basic 'ammo 101,' and once they get here, they'll be assigned to an element where they'll receive two to three months of extensive hands on training."

During that training, the Airmen are able to gain experience working with chaff and flares, missiles, as well as various sizes of firing rounds. The training received places Airmen into one of three functional areas falling under the ammo shop: systems, production and material.

"This career field is rotational," said Senior Master Sgt. Edward Camarillo 49th MXG munitions accountable systems officer. "We're trained in all aspects of ammo, so the Airmen can shift around every two or three years."

Responsibility for mobility, combat plans and training falls under the systems section, as well as the recording of all accountable transactions in the combat ammunition systems allows real time visibility for combat commanders to see what is where at all times.

When it comes to the assembly of bombs, chaffs, flares, or the maintenance of munitions, the production section is always there.

The material section of ammo monitors the accountability of Holloman's munitions kept in 22 structures, nine of which are known as igloos, and the others, magazines. These structures offer 45,000 square feet of storage space for up to 1.5 million pounds of net explosives.

When it comes to the safety and security of its assets, ammo takes no chances.

"You have to have a line badge with the commander's approval to be in this area," said Pitcher. "We have a gate guard to ensure only authorized personnel enter the area and there is always someone in the shop. If there's a case where there's not, it's carefully secured with several alarm structures, security forces and stand-by personnel."

Whether is assembling chaff or flares, inspecting, maintaining munitions, or preparing them for aircraft training, Holloman's ammo team always does its part to ensure mission readiness.

"If there was no ammo, these aircraft would be only passenger aircraft," said Pitcher. "There would be no destroying or suppressing the enemy by air strike. There would be no 'warheads on foreheads.' Ammo makes the mission."

Not only do these Airmen realize and respect the importance in their role as members of Team Holloman, they also find satisfaction in their mission.

"There is no career field like ammo," said Camarillo. "Nothing beats the unity and camaraderie, or is stronger as far as the pride of the ammo family. I find this very enjoyable and I'm very satisfied with what I do."