Maintenance University sharpens skills with joint training in Puerto Rico
By Staff Sgt. Clayton Wear, 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 18, 2021
CAROLINA, Puerto Rico -- More than 130 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard completed a week of intensive aircraft maintenance training here June 12-18, honing proficiencies in a joint field environment while avoiding the distractions of home station.
The annual event, called Maintenance University, featured classes on everything from changing the tires on C-130H Hercules aircraft to repairing sophisticated autopilot equipment, said Lt. Col. James Embry, commander of the Louisville, Kentucky-based 123rd Maintenance Squadron.
The training allowed citizen-Airmen from Kentucky’s 123rd Airlift Wing to enhance their C-130 maintenance skills prior to the unit’s upcoming transition to the C-130J, while also giving them the opportunity to train alongside maintainers from the Puerto Rico Air Guard’s new Contingency Response Group.
“The Puerto Rico Air Guard has provided a great location with a ramp that fits our requirements for training, classrooms, facilities, a fire response capability and security forces,” Embry said. “It’s a perfect environment for us to not only get our maintainers up to career field standards, but we can also expand upon our training into the Contingency Response environment as well.”
This year’s MXU curriculum was designed by shop chiefs to meet individual training needs while eliminating the competing obligations of a typical drill weekend back home.
“For those of us who are traditional Guardsmen, this is a really good opportunity for us to spend a week and focus solely on this training,” said Airman 1st Class Audrey Parios, a C-130 crew chief. “This is a great chance to have everyone in the same place to meet, network, and learn from each other away from the distractions at home.”
Airmen from the Puerto Rico Air Guard’s 156th Wing also appreciated the opportunity to train with maintainers from the Kentucky wing, which also is home to a Contingency Response Group.
As the 156th works to stand up a full Contingency Response Group in the coming years, the 123rd was also able to supply C-130s and CRG-qualified maintainers to train Puerto Rico maintainers on night-vision marshaling.
“It’s fortunate for us that the 123rd has a CRG with C-130 maintainers,” noted Col. Joelee Sessions, commander of the 156th Contingency Response Group. “When this crew comes here, they are bringing expertise from the CR world to help us train our folks.
“One of my goals is to get our maintainers and crew chiefs’ hands back onto aircraft so that they are fully familiarized, so that when we go on the road as a CRG, they are comfortable handling the aircraft that come in and accomplishing the mission.”