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374th AMXS, The Airmen Behind OCD

Airmen from the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron monitor the instrument readings while communicating with the flying crew chief via radio during an aircraft refueling process at Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018.

Airmen from the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron monitor the instrument readings while communicating with the flying crew chief via radio during an aircraft refueling process at Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018. OCD serves as a training platform for the U.S. Air Force and its partners to better train for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief through the use of Low-Cost, Low-Altitude airdrops on unsurveyed drop zones throughout the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

Staff Sgt. Christopher Canto, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, communicates with the rest of his team aboard a C-130J Super Hercules via radio during the refueling process at Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Canto, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, communicates with the rest of his team aboard a C-130J Super Hercules via radio during the refueling process at Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018. OCD serves as a training platform for the U.S. Air Force and its partners to better train for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief through the use of Low-Cost, Low-Altitude airdrops on unsurveyed drop zones throughout the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

Staff Sgt. Christopher Canto, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, communicates with the rest of his team aboard a C-130J Super Hercules via radio during the refueling process at Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Canto, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, communicates with the rest of his team aboard a C-130J Super Hercules via radio during the refueling process at Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018. OCD is a trilateral training mission designed to give C-130 crews from the U.S. Air Force, JASDF, and Royal Australian Air Force a chance to airdrop supplies on un-surveyed drop zones throughout the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

Staff Sgt. Christopher Canto, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, inspects the propellers of a C-130J Super Hercules during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Canto, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, inspects the propellers of a C-130J Super Hercules during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018. Prior to flying, all aircraft must undergo an inspection to ensure the C-130J is ready to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Haston, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems craftsman, looks over the tires of a C-130J Super Hercules during a pre-flight inspection during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Haston, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems craftsman, looks over the tires of a C-130J Super Hercules during a pre-flight inspection during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018. In its 67th year, OCD is the world’s longest running airdrop training mission providing critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands impacting approximately 20,000 people across 1.8 million square nautical miles of operating area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

Airmen from the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron look over the tires and surrounding systems during a pre-flight inspection during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018.

Airmen from the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron look over the tires and surrounding systems during a pre-flight inspection during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018. From the second a plane lands until the aircraft is handed over to the aircrew, the members of the 374th AMXS ensure their C-130J Super Hercules are ready to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

Staff Sgt. Christopher Canto, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, conducts his pre-flight inspection during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Canto, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, conducts his pre-flight inspection during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018. OCD is a trilateral training mission designed to give C-130 crews from the U.S. Air Force, JASDF, and Royal Australian Air Force a chance to airdrop supplies on un-surveyed drop zones throughout the Pacific. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Haston, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems craftsman, goes over the C-130J Super Hercules’ instruments during a pre-flight inspection during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Haston, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems craftsman, goes over the C-130J Super Hercules’ instruments during a pre-flight inspection during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018. In its 67th year, OCD is the world’s longest running airdrop training mission providing critical supplies to 56 Micronesian islands impacting approximately 20,000 people across 1.8 million square nautical miles of operating area. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

Staff Sgt. Christopher Canto, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, goes over his pre-flight inspection checklist during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Canto, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief, goes over his pre-flight inspection checklist during Operation Christmas Drop 2018 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Dec. 9, 2018. From the second a plane lands until the aircraft is handed over to the aircrew, the members of the 374th AMXS ensure their C-130J Super Hercules are ready to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Matthew Gilmore)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Twenty-five tons of critical supplies airdropped to 56 Micronesian islands impacting more than 20,000 people. A tall task taken on by the servicemembers who take part in Operation Christmas Drop.

While OCD continues on as the longest running airdrop training mission, serving as a platform to better prepare the U.S. Air Force and its allies, the Japan Air-Self Defense Force (Koku Jietai), and the Royal Australian Air Force, to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in the region, the event also serves as a chance for the maintainers of the 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron to train in an environment away from the comforts of home.

“There are a lot of pieces that go into making the airdrops happen,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Jimenez, 374th AMXS instrument flight control systems technician. “Before our C-130J Super Hercules leave and the second they return is our time to shine. Whether at home or travelling with our planes, our job is to ensure they can fly and continue fulfilling their mission.”

While that job is easier to do at their home station of Yokota Air Base, Japan, the Airmen of the 374th AMXS have met and will continue to meet the challenges OCD provides.

“The biggest difficulty of executing our mission out here is that we have to provide our own support and resources,” said Jimenez. “Out here we have to get to the bottom of things quickly. When it comes to travelling with our planes we have to try and forecast the equipment we will need in certain climates and conditions. A lot is at stake if we plan incorrectly.”

When it comes to planning accordingly for the best level of mission success, historical forecasting isn’t the only thing taken into account.

“As odd as it may sound, each of our planes has a personality,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Haston, 374th AMXS electrical and environmental systems craftsman. “As maintainers we get to know the planes we work with on a daily basis. We learn what tends to need to be replaced more often and every plane is different. It’s our job to know and anticipate the plane’s needs based on how well we know it. That is how we can best plan for the future.

“While having that relationship with our aircraft is big in planning to meet certain missions, it is through going to these remote locations that we truly get to know our craft on an even deeper level. It’s through coming to missions like OCD that we really get to create the next set of seasoned maintainers who truly know their craft.”

Despite the challenges of doing their job away from Yokota, the maintainers never forget what their job means to the mission.

“We take so much pride in our work,” said Haston. “Our planes aren’t just machines to us. When we work long hours every second of it matters because people fly in our aircraft. Not only does the crew rely on our work but when it comes to OCD, the 20,000 people on those islands receiving the mission critical supplies rely on us as well.

“While we don’t get to see the bundles being dropped personally, when we see a fully loaded up C-130J go out and come back empty, we know we helped make a difference.”