6th AMXS: On the grind to make them fly

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Shannon Bowman
  • 6th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

With the ability to transfer a maximum fuel load of 200,000 pounds, the KC-135 Stratotanker has proven to be a key player in the mission success of the Air Force since the aircraft began flying missions in 1956.

The KC-135 has remained a reliable asset in extending the global reach of the nation, but it is the aircraft's maintainers who function as the true engine keeping the tankers airborne.

For the Airmen of the 6th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, hard work is a common theme echoed throughout the squadron. The 6th AMXS Airmen are dedicated to their craft, and they constantly ensure that MacDill’s aircraft are ready to take the fight to the enemy at any time.  

“Aircraft maintenance is tough, and can be a real grind,” said Senior Airman Eric Flores, a 6th AMXS electrical and environmental systems journeyman. “But even when we’re tired from working a 12 hour shift, or when it’s over 100 degrees on the flightline, we find a way to get it done and we take pride in our ability to do the job.”

Keeping MacDill’s KC-135s ready to fly 24-hours a day takes the effort of Airmen with specialty training in aerospace propulsion, communications and navigations, electrical and environmental, guidance and control systems and crew chiefs banding together to move the mission forward.

“We put in lots of hours, but we go through it together,” said Tech. Sgt. Wesley May, a 6th AMXS aerospace propulsion specialist. “At the end of the day, it’s extremely rewarding to do your part, fix a problem and see that aircraft go up and complete missions.”

Not only do 6th AMXS Airmen ensure that the KC-135s remain mission ready, but they are the frontline of safety for the tanker’s aircrews.

“We understand the stakes of doing our job, and we know that mistakes can be costly,” said May. “We want the aircrews to have full confidence in our aircraft, so we  have to be extremely detail-oriented to uphold the quality assurance standards.”

Despite having to work long hours and manage through tough weather conditions, the Airmen of the 6th AMXS supported over 5,000 flight hours and 965 sorties for the 6th Air Refueling Wing in 2019.

“These are some of the hardest working people you will ever find,” said Airman 1st Class Trenton Carrere, a 6th AMXS crew chief. “They ask a lot of us as maintainers and it’s not always easy, but we still show up and we keep on driving.”