Training AF craftsmen

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michelle Vickers
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Whether it's keeping the "deck" clean or using the "head," Airmen at Detachment 1, 359th Training Squadron, "aboard" Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla., know their sister service's lingo.

The detachment teaches initial-entry and retraining Airmen in aircraft structural maintenance, low observable aircraft structural maintenance or nondestructive inspection careers.

"I explain ASM as the body shop of the Air Force," said Master Sgt. Jason Parvin, 359th TRS, Det. 1 ASM instructor supervisor. "We take care of the paint and the structure to ensure the aircraft is air-worthy."

Low observable aircraft structural maintenance performs similar tasks for stealth aircraft. NDI Airmen learn to use techniques to test the structural integrity of aircraft and their components.

"Our job is important because we ensure the aircraft is structurally sound and safe," said Airman Joshua Mayo, 359th TRS, Det. 1 ASM student.

The instructors teaching methods allow students to practice everything from corrosion detection methods to painting aircraft components.

"For the most part, this is a hands-on course," said Staff Sgt. Shaun Delaware, 359th TRS, Det. 1 ASM instructor. "Most lectures are 30 minutes to an hour long. Then, we show them how to do it and they get to work performing the task."

In addition to U.S. Airmen, the schoolhouse trains international students.

"It can be challenging at times with the language barrier," Parvin said. "However, there's respect and a good working relationship with the students."

For Airmen who return to the schoolhouse, instructor duty can make for a rewarding special duty assignment.

"It's a different point of view standing on the podium side," Parvin said. "It's a good feeling just to give back to the career field."

Maintenance shops across the Air Force appreciate the instructors' contributions.

"I know I'm doing a good job when I get praise from shop chiefs out in the field," Delaware said. "Also, knowing the students I taught work on multimillion dollar aircraft and receive honors like below-the-zone [promotion] shows they're the great Airmen we strive for here."

While the detachment's students experience elements of a sister service's culture, the instructors believe this contributes to their understanding of the military's collaborative nature.

"With the way operations are going now, toward more of a joint environment, it's good for them to get that working relationship now," Parvin said.

Though Navy aircraft adorn the hallway of the detachment's building, and the Marine woodland and Navy blue camouflage uniforms dominate the campus, the Air Force instructors at NAS Pensacola produce more than 1,000 maintenance Airmen yearly.

"These Airmen are some of the last true craftsmen in the Air Force," Parvin said.