Structural maintenance shop wins the 173rd Maintenance Squadron “Top Shop” award

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Emily Copeland
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

The 173rd Structural Maintenance shop won the Maintenance Squadron’s Top Shop award for their hard work over the last six months, from July to December 2020.  This is the shop’s first time winning since the Top Shop award was created in 2017.

The structural maintenance shop is responsible for fabricating, updating and maintaining aircraft parts and equipment for the Kingsley F-15C Eagles.

According to Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin Haynes, the fabrication element superintendent, the shop has completed multiple complex repairs over the last six months.  These include repairing four nose radomes and 12 ejection seats, replacing an upper aft torque box, and a four day repair on an aircraft after is sustained a bird strike. 

“These are just a few of the notable repairs, but the shop spends hundreds of hours a month fabricating metal parts by hand to repair cracks in aircraft structures, plus aircraft and support equipment corrosion control by prepping and painting parts,” added Haynes.

The shop was not only recognized for the work they accomplish on the aircraft, but also going above and beyond for the entire base.  Earlier this year, the shop crafted sneeze guards for the clinic and Base Exchange to assist with COVID mitigation.  Additionally, they have manufactured parts for other F-15 bases across the country.

“We strive to provide excellent customer service for all of our customers, both on and off base, and assist where we can,” said Master Sgt. Josh Fuhrer, the structural maintenance supervisor.

“The Top Shop is a highly coveted award which is competed for across 13 shops,” said Lt. Col. Adam Gaudinski, 173rd MXS commander.  “More importantly, it is a chance to recognize not only the winner for their accomplishments, but also to witness all the other amazing work done by these maintainers.  Ultimately, the award is a testament to hard work, discipline, accountability, and teamwork.”

Winning the Top Shop award is mainly for bragging rights, but it’s also an opportunity to show off the Airmen’s craft and hard work.  A large sticker is showcased on a Kingsley F-15 Eagle with the winning shop’s logo represented.

“The aircraft structural maintenance shop works selflessly as a team, but also with other entities throughout the Maintenance Group and Wing,” said Haynes.  “They are highly skilled fabricators who take pride in their work and keeping the F-15C/D airworthy.  Without the aircraft structural maintenance shop, our wing would not be able to accomplish its mission of training combat ready F-15 pilots.”