Missions begin with crew chiefs

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steven Wilson
  • 36th Operations Group Public Affairs
Getting America's most lethal and technologically advanced bomber platform over a target begins with the Airmen on the ground. 

The crew chief's that make sure the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber is ready to strike where the combatant commander deems necessary say there's anything but a "typical" day in the life of a B-2 maintainer. 

"We're always with the aircraft, from the time they're recovered to the time they launch back out," said Senior Airman Gregory Hudson, B-2 crew chief. "A crew chief typically spends 10 - 11 hours at work on an eight-hour shift, getting little time to eat or rest. You're constantly jumping around from aircraft to aircraft being used wherever you're needed." 

Having that ability and dedication to get the mission done wherever and however they have to are common traits among the Spirit maintainers, according to one of their seasoned NCOs. 

Tech. Sgt. Robert Burden said he's lucky to have 19 of his brethren maintainers deployed here with him to adapt quickly to new challenges. 

"Sometimes I feel like Rudolph on the land of misfit toys but I couldn't ask for a better group of guys to work with," he said. 

This deployment to the Western Pacific is testing the mettle of the Spirit crews, but Sergeant Burden said nothing gets in the way of him and his Airmen doing their jobs. 

"Working on an open ramp is a new experience for us since we operate out of hangars at Whiteman," said Sergeant Burden. "Fighting the rain and hot sun adds another challenge for us." 

Sergeant Burden added operating in adverse conditions didn't get in the way of his crews making sure they do their part to get a plane in the air. 

His contemporaries agreed. 

"It's true we can't call it quits because of weather," Airman Hudson said. "When we're deployed we're truly out in the elements." 

What crew chiefs bring to the fight is not lost on the aviation community. 

"Our B-2 maintainers and weapons loaders are outstanding," said Lt. Col. Todd Copeland, 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron director of operations. "There are several unique, technical maintenance challenges associated with the B-2 and I am continually amazed at their ability to meet a launch timeline while working through what appears to be an impossible task. 

"They are a vital, integral part of the team and my hat's off to them," he said. 

Sergeant Burden summed up his thoughts by noting everyone in uniform has a piece of the equation toward mission accomplishment. 

"Pilots plan the missions and they fly the jets," he said. "Munitions (Airmen) build the bombs." 

Crew chief to the core; however, he couldn't resist one parting shot. 

"But," Sergeant Burden added, "it's the guys that live on the ramp that make magic happen and bad people dead." 

Sergeant Burden and his fellow B-2 maintainers support the Air Force's vision of global vigilance, reach, and power by persistently ensuring the B-2 keeps its warfighting capability, providing expert combat support to their unique airframe and enable Air Force warfighting concepts.