173rd FW is first to integrate Active Duty support staff.
By Senior Airman Penny Snoozy, 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published April 21, 2015
KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore.-- The 173rd Fighter Wing's Total Force Integration is the first of its kind. TFIs around the country have welcomed Active Duty maintainers and pilots onto Air National Guard bases; however, the 173rd FW is the first to integrate not only maintainers and pilots, but support personnel as well.
In Nov. 2014, the 173rd FW began to receive Active Duty personnel on-base, in an effort to increase manpower as the wing ramps up pilot production to meet the Air Force's need for more F-15C pilots.
As the mission grew, the wing command staff realized that the maintenance and operations were not the only areas that were feeling an increased work load. Support group offices, such as the power production shop in the civil engineering squadron, discovered more manning was essential.
TFI volunteer Staff Sgt. Trevor Wilkinson, an electrical power production craftsman, joined the 173rd FW power production shop just in time to provide experienced assistance with the increased work load. Additionally, he was able to assist with the extensive project of replacing the aircraft arresting system; something that must be done every ten years to assure aircraft can be safely stopped during a landing in emergency conditions, which can ultimately save a pilot's life.
"The TFI is great," Wilkinson says. "Being able to contribute my skills and knowledge to the people here, and them giving their experiences to me makes us a better Air Force as a whole. Ultimately it's one team, one fight."
Master Sgt. Eric Storer, the shop supervisor for power production and barriers, works every day to keep this aspect of the flying mission running smoothly. With only a two-man shop, Storer says he was both relieved to gain a needed troop and impressed with Wilkinson's work ethic.
"When we got the okay for the TFI, we were fortunate to have Staff Sgt. Wilkinson, an instructor from our 3-level technical school, join our shop," added Storer.
After completing the aircraft arresting system replacement, Wilkinson's initial 90 day tour at Kingsley Field was nearly complete. He then volunteered to assist the power production shop for an additional 30 days when he saw there was going to be a manning shortfall.
"I was really surprised how huge the mission is," Wilkinson said. "The mission is as big as an active-duty mission for as much as we fly. The fact that Kingsley is so small and they're still able to get the mission done was pretty impressive."
Storer says that Wilkinson's performance and dedication to the Air Force and the TFI is evident in his everyday duties and how he carries himself.
"He is an outstanding individual; he's exactly what we look for in a Staff to Tech. Sergeant," said Storer. "He's an expert in his field and a great example of what our Airmen should try to attain if they're not already at his level."
Storer says TFI members like Wilkinson bring a great wealth of knowledge to the base noting that the exchange of knowledge is beneficial for both the Active Duty and Guard.
When asked what he will take away from his experience at Kingsley Field, Wilkinson said, "I get to take all of this back with me as an instructor. I now also know more about the Guard, so I can assist my Guard students much better."
He also added that the more the Guard and Active Duty members work together, the more congruent the practices, and the Air Force will become.