914 MXG tested, responds at Nordic Response 24

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Caya
  • 914th Air Refueling Wing

Airmen of the 914th Maintenance Group have been put to the test, and overcame challenges during Nordic Response 24.

The U.S. Air Force detachment in Sweden, comprised of 914th Air Refueling Wing Airmen, landed at bare base conditions as far as communications and support equipment go. However, they set up a working operations node thanks to the Swedish Air Force and other support agencies.

“This exercise specifically has tested us in regards to what we can all accomplish,” said Master Sgt. Anthony Lewandowski 914th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron airframe, powerplant general flight chief. “We landed here without requested support equipment and we had to make it work during a time when we were very low on resources,” he added.

The Swedish Air Force stepped in to assist with the issues.

“The Swedish Air Force has been phenomenal partners with us,” said Lewandowski, “They were able to obtain support equipment for our maintenance mission. However, the equipment was just different enough from our requirements,” he added. “Despite that hitch, the Swedes were able to guide us in their community to obtain parts and pieces for us to get the mission done.”

After facing the hurdle of finding required equipment, the maintainers needed to do some heavy maintenance on the Stratotanker, because an engine’s exhaust temperature was not reading on a flight-deck display.

“This is not the kind of maintenance you want to do on the road,” said Lewandowski. “However, it’s been awesome to be tested with limited resources. Our Airmen are multi-Air Force Specialty Coded, so they have been tested on their specialties.”

The Airmen troubleshot the engine issue throughout the day,took time to install a drogue refueling system on the boom so thetanker could refuel U.S. Marine aircraft, and then went back to resolving the engine issue. The situation allowed them to combine their technical and practical savvy for a solution, according to a maintainer.

“There’s a lot in the job which can get technical and boring such as pouring over manuals and wiring diagrams,” said Tech. Sgt. Connor Hennessy, 914th AMXS avionics technician. “This issue allowed us to use our brain and troubleshoot in the moment—and it’s fun because it’s a good way to learn.” said Hennessy. “We swapped wiring between engines to pinpoint the malfunction and were able to reset the system,” he added.

The maintainers worked late into the night with the temperature hovering near the single digits. However, the environment was not a hindrance for the reservists.

“It’s business as usual for us,” said 914th AMXS Senior Enlisted Leader Chief Master Sgt. Jenn Hilton. “Our Niagara Airmen are very experienced in dealing with cold weather operations, so it’s not a distraction for them, as opposed to other units.”

After they were in agreement on the fix, the maintainers were able to successfully execute an engine run with no issues, therefore greenlighting the aircraft to fly a refueling mission the next day.

NR24 has been the cold weather training that the reservists thrive in, said Hilton. “We always go into exercises expecting to be stressed and tested; these guys have stood up to every challenge that the exercise and aircraft has thrown at them and they’ve mostly done it with a smile on their face,” she added.

“It’s been incredible what we can do with a small amount of people, with little equipment in sub-freezing temperatures," said Lewandowski. “You get to see what they can accomplish working safely to make the mission happen,” he added.

The efforts of the 914th AMXS have allowed the U.S. aircraft to fly and provide aerial refueling to Allied and joint aircraft during NR24.

“We’ve participated in exercises in the past, but this is definitely a first for us as it encompasses a good majority of NATO countries,” said Lewandowski. “Being a part of a large, joint exercise like this is definitely something special—and to be the ones from America as part of it—that’s pretty awesome.”