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News | April 11, 2018

Keeping our wheels rolling

By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Cooper 100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

They are the Airmen that keep the Wing’s vehicles running. These men and women are sought out when there is a problem that requires their attention. 

The Airmen of vehicle maintenance are some of the most mechanically inclined individuals on base. Vehicle maintenance performs scheduled and unscheduled maintenance on vehicles of all shapes and sizes.

“Our goal and our job is to maintain the entire Wing’s fleet of vehicles,” said Staff Sgt. Markeith Roberson, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron, mission generating general purpose maintenance supervisor. “We maintain everything in this section-Humvees, cranes, vans and Ford Rangers for security forces.” 

Members in this field have a very broad knowledge of the vehicles they maintain. Airmen don’t specialize in just one system, instead they must know them all.

“Airmen that come in have to know multiple systems such as brakes, steering, suspension, transmission, fuel systems, electric, and drive train; everything from the front to the back of the vehicle,” explained Roberson. “We work just as hard as any maintainer, and we have a steeper learning curve.”

One of the challenges for this career is how they often have to figure things out for themselves. 

“A lot of vehicles that come in are updated, for example, we have a brand new security forces Ford Taurus which doesn’t have any technical manuals for it,” said Roberson. “Vehicles that we don’t have a lot of information for, force us to rely on our mechanical abilities versus our technical manuals.”

This career asks Airmen to think outside the box when a solution doesn’t readily present itself.

“Vehicle maintenance gives you the ability to troubleshoot problems using your critical thinking skills,” said Roberson. “Before I joined I had no mechanical ability whatsoever, I couldn’t even change oil. Now, I can look at something and not know what it is, but know for a fact that I can figure it out.”

While can be a demanding career, it’s not without its high points.

“Learning new tips and techniques is the most rewarding part,” said Airman 1st Class Joshua Patterson, 100th LRS, mission generating vehicular equipment maintenance journeyman. “I enjoy working with experienced mechanics, seeing their knowledge and learning new ways to complete different tasks.”

For others, the sense of community and camaraderie is the oil that keeps their units engine running smoothly.

“I like seeing a new Airman who doesn’t have a lot of knowledge or experience come in and watch them gain knowledge and grow into a great mechanic,” said Roberson. “Vehicle maintenance, no matter where you go, is always more of a family, for me, working with a good group of people is the most rewarding aspect.”

The men and women of vehicle maintenance are responsible for keeping Team Mildenhall’s wheels rolling. They keep all the government owned vehicles in good working order so Team Mildenhall can accomplish the mission and operate efficiently every day. 

Editor's note: The original story can be viewed on the Royal Air Force Mildenhall website.