By Combined Joint Task Force 1 - AfghanistanJuly 19, 2011
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, July 19, 2011 -- A call for the quick reaction force to support Task Force Bronco Soldiers hits the Task Force Shooter Tactical Operations Center at Forward Operating Base Fenty. Without missing a beat, the battle captain, calls over to Company B “Killer Spades,” 1st Battalion, 10th Aviation Regiment, TF Shooter, to launch their AH-64 Apache helicopters -- helicopters that wouldn’t be able to perform the mission without the help of the “Junkyard Dogs.”
Despite the Apaches’ extremely high operational tempo of more than 650 flight hours per month, there is never a question if Company B will have helicopters ready to go. Capt. John Mclean, former Company B commander, nicknamed the maintenance crew for their company the Junkyard Dogs for their ability to fix aircraft and enable mission accomplishment -- regardless of the resources at hand.
Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Rood and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Alvin Melvin, Company B’s maintenance test pilots, are responsible for ensuring the Killer Spades’ aircraft are fit to fly and are maintained to standard. They said they are extremely proud of their Junkyard Dogs.
“The sheer number of hours our aircraft have flown this deployment, and the maintenance they require to sustain the hours has caused our crew chiefs to become experts at diagnosing and troubleshooting issues before they become a problem," Melvin said. "They can tell by the slightest change in the noise the aircraft makes that there is an issue in the aircraft and where the likely problem lies.”
“The most impressive example of how good our crew chiefs is not only never dropping a mission due to maintenance, but being able to hot swap an aircraft in under 12 minutes, which ordinarily takes between 30 and 45 minutes,” Rood added.
Hot swapping is when an aircraft comes in for repairs, and the pilots are able to transition to another aircraft to continue their mission.
“Another key trait about our guys, that can’t be overstated, is their ability to understand the importance of their work. Our guys understand the impact our Apaches have protecting our fellow Soldiers on the battlefield. They truly understand that keeping our birds in the air keeps our ground forces safe and destroys the insurgent forces,” Rood said.
Not only do the Junkyard Dogs contribute greatly to the success of TF Shooter’s operations, they have also made a tremendous positive impact to the health and welfare of the squadron as a whole.
Under the leadership and planning of Sgt. Timothy Nosser, the 10 crew chiefs planned and built the task force a well-stocked gym, which is appropriately called the "Small Arms Repair Room."
In addition, they created a balcony overlooking the flightline and produced the furniture used on the balcony, which hosted numerous key leaders.
Whether they are maintaining aircraft or improving the facilities at FOB Fenty, the Junkyard Dogs have made a lasting impact to the many servicemembers throughout Regional Command East according to Capt. Brett Monette, the commander of Company B.
“The extraordinary success of the Killer Spade’s flight crews in this theater of operations is, without a doubt, directly correlated to its first class maintenance team. I cannot express how proud I am to have the most mission-driven Soldiers a commander could ever ask for.”