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Deployment demonstrates importance of team work for aircraft maintainers

Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada -- "This is my first deployment," said Senior Airman Brittney Adams, 125th Fighter Wing (125FW) aircraft maintainer. "There could possibly be better trips, but the people you work with make it better. Any bad situation, it makes it better."

Adams was referring to her trip to 5 Wing Goose Bay in northern Canada for the 125FW's support of field training Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD. From Oct. 19-27, more than 100 of these Guardsmen from Florida were able to experience operations in a very different environment.

"The climate definitely affected operations," said Master Sgt. Kevin Puckett, deployed 125FW production superintendent. "I think there was a 30 something degree temperature swing from here in sunny Florida to Goose Bay, Canada, and none of us are obviously used to working in those conditions. Everybody's working in bulkier clothes. Trying to accomplish the mission in the cold was a feat."

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD brought together Canadian and U.S. air forces to practice several air patrols and combat simulations.

"Our mission, with the F-15 was to patrol the airspace, along with the Canadian F-18 and be ready to intercept and destroy any (simulated) threat that came our way," Puckett said.

Goose Bay is considered a remote location, and because of how secluded and northern it is, the aircraft maintainers had to prepare for the journey.

"There were several challenges that we faced during the deployment, the biggest being Goose Bay not having any equipment. We had to take everything that we needed with us on the deployment," Puckett said. "Probably the greatest 'lessons learned' from the Goose Bay deployment was mobility: make sure everything is set before you leave. Equipment, supply, parts; double checking all that before you leave."

During the deployment the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS) needed equipment and parts that were not brought with them. While Staff Sgt. Jennifer Marshal, a stock control member, coordinated with Air Force bases around the states to receive parts as quickly as possible, Puckett worked on finding the equipment they needed.

"The equipment that we didn't have, those other units (Canadian and other U.S.) stepped up and we (borrowed) several pieces of equipment from them," Puckett said. "In-turn, we lent those other guys some things as well. The interaction was smooth. Everybody was friendly... and the deployed unit, as a whole, worked together to make sure the mission was accomplished."

The initial planning for Exercise VIGILANT SHIELD began over a year before the exercise started, and culminated in an overall success.

"I think our most important asset would be all the shops and all the players coming together, working together, to meet the mission and get the jets ready," Adams said. "Everybody plays an important role in maintaining the jets. With all of us working together, getting things done, it helps us and it helps the pilots, it helps the mission."