Loading weapons, projecting air power: all in a day’s work

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Bradley Tipton
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Departing Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, for a remote corner of the MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, flightline, 23rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew member, Senior Airman Dylan Holton stepped up to the plate for his first agile combat deployment exercise called Mobil Tiger.

During the exercise, Holton and the other weapons load crew disembarked from an HC-130J Combat King II aircraft, unloaded their equipment and practiced quickly removing weapons from one A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft and installing them on the next waiting aircraft - without any support from the rest of the base.

“I enjoy turning wrenches, and I get to work with some good people, especially my crew.” explained Holton. “Working with munitions is exciting and it feels great to contribute to the air combat mission.”

Holton says he’s lucky to be part of a career field that allows him to be hands on with aircraft while serving his country. It’s fast paced and often demanding work, but he looks forward to each day with his team as they routinely change ordnance on the A-10, allowing pilots to train with various weapons.

The Mancelona, Michigan native enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 2016 to provide for a family and ensure that his future children will have a great childhood.

“My family provides a lot of support and it makes them proud to know I’m serving, and I hope to live up to the legacy of my grandfather, James Holton, who earned the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals for heroism in the Vietnam War while serving in the U.S. Army.” said Holton.

Exercises like Mobil Tiger are a learning experience for Airmen. According to Holton, his team quickly found ways to improve their time and efficiency.

“When I see the weapons load team out there and they’re sprinting for three hours, downloading bombs and putting them on airplanes, I’m nothing but proud to see them execute the mission we planned.” said U.S. Air Force Major Zachary Krueger, A-10 pilot assigned to the 23rd Wing Exercises and Plans office.

According to Holton, he’s excited for the chance to deploy and use those skills downrange.