Weapons evaluators secure perfection in the skies

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Aaron Paul Colbert, left, and Senior Airman Jacob D. Jennings, right, both 35th Maintenance Group weapons evaluators, assess crew 15’s loading capacities in the load barn at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 28, 2017. Misawa remains engaged in the commitment to preserve the security, stability, freedom and ensuring prosperity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Aaron Paul Colbert, left, and Senior Airman Jacob D. Jennings, right, both 35th Maintenance Group weapons evaluators, assess crew 15’s loading capacities in the load barn at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Feb. 28, 2017. Misawa remains engaged in the commitment to preserve the security, stability and prosperity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, through actions such as ensuring its weapons crews are ready to deploy at a moment's notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Araceli Alarcon)

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --

Once a month, weapons crews file into the load barn at Misawa Air Base to test their proficiency in loading munitions onto F-16 Fighting Falcons.

The weapons evaluators await their performances, ready to correct and perfect their every move.

“We standardize and train all the load crews on Misawa Air Base so they can load safely and productively,” explained Senior Airman Jacob D. Jennings, a 35th Maintenance Group weapons evaluator. “Our job as evaluators is to watch them load and make sure it’s done correctly, safely and at the required speed in order for the mission to be carried out on time.”

Misawa Air Base is committed to enhancing stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region by promoting security, cooperation and deterring aggression, with continued partnership, presence, and military readiness. To stay at the ready and uphold these pledges, weapons crews must display perfection in their daily tasks.

“If they aren’t loading them constantly, it is easy to forget little things you must do to make sure it is done [right].” said Jennings.

Evaluators must know the ins and outs of every munition and weapons system to ensure the load is done correctly. Attention to detail is key; one missed item can cause a munition to fail, ultimately resulting in a botched mission or worse, a loss of life.

“The evaluators have to be hard on us due to the level of urgency and danger that is associated with working with live munitions,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Garrison, a 13th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew team chief. “Lives are on the line when we are deployed, so we have to be at our best.”

Misawa's mission is to provide worldwide deployable forces, protect U.S. interests in the Pacific and defend Japan with sustained forward presence and focused mission support.

“If we don’t do our part in training, evaluating and certifying our load crews they we can’t load munitions safely and in a timely matter,” said Tech. Sgt. Nathaniel Monica, a 35th Maintenance Group loading standardization crew member. “These [evaluations] are key to ensuring load crews are proficient in the capabilities and maintain our readiness in case we ever need to deploy.”