Deployed Structural Maintainers 'Do it All'


SOUTHWEST ASIA  -- When a homeowner needs to redo a wall, repair the roof, and re-key a lock, several calls must be made.

The Air Force only has to make one.

Structural maintainers are "like the carpenters, welders, roofers and handymen, kind of all rolled up into one," said Tech. Sgt. Howard Jones, 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron structures NCO in charge.

"Our core training includes learning how to do cylinder locks, metal work, sheetrock, carpentry, welding and more," he said.

The 380th ECES structures shop is responsible for maintaining the operability and security of 380th AEW facilities, as well as performing renovations and construction projects within some of the facilities.

Without these structural technicians to maintain the facilities that house the wing's aircraft and its people, there would be "a domino effect," Jones said.

"For instance, we maintain the hangars," said Jones, a Vacaville, Calif., native deployed from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "If we're not working on the hangars, the hangar door closes and they can't get it open. The plane is stuck inside and the mission doesn't take off.

"We also help maintain the quarters that people sleep in. if their quarters aren't maintained and they're not getting sleep, then they're coming to work all groggy. They're not able to do their job either."

Senior Airman Jose Remigio said the maintainers are also locksmiths.

"If they want a building re-keyed or (for us) to install new cypher locks, we do that too," said Remigio, a Long Island, N.Y., native, also deployed from Travis AFB. "So we help with security as well."

Though the maintainers wear many hats, it's often what they love most about their job. Job satisfaction for Jones is "the ability to be creative," he said. "There's not just one way to do any one thing.

"Sometimes you have to sit there and you have to think it out. It's kind of like doing a puzzle every time you go to work."

Remigio agreed.

"We do a variety of jobs; we're not doing the same thing again and again," he said. "You learn a lot from your job and you can apply it anywhere."

In addition to the job variety, Staff Sgt. Camille Regina said she loves working with her co-workers.

"We have the best camaraderie in the Air Force," said Regina, a Beach Lake, Pa., native deployed from Shaw AFB, S.C. "Not only here and where we're stationed, but in the whole Air Force, the structures shop has this immense camaraderie that I love. I can rely on my people to back me up."

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