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No air power without ground power

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brian Bloomer, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment journeyman, delivers an ACE air conditioner unit May 9, 2013 to an E-3 Sentry. The AWACS requires this heavy-duty air conditioner to keep its systems cool enough for maintainers to perform preventive maintenance. Bloomer is a native of Maquon, Ill., and is deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua J. Garcia)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brian Bloomer, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment journeyman, delivers an ACE air conditioner unit May 9, 2013 to an E-3 Sentry. The AWACS requires this heavy-duty air conditioner to keep its systems cool enough for maintainers to perform preventive maintenance. Bloomer is a native of Maquon, Ill., and is deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua J. Garcia)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Christopher Maglio, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment journeyman, left, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Toman, 380 EMXS AGE craftsman, center, and U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anna Martinez, 380 EMXS AGE journeyman, right, open their digital technical orders and toolboxes in preparation for a hard day's work May 8, 2013, here. The 380 EMXS AGE shop performs an average of 600 maintenance actions and 150 periodic inspections monthly. Maglio, a Wheatfield, Ind., native is deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Toman, a Bismarck, N.D., native is also deployed from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. Martinez, a Highland, Calif., native is deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Christopher Maglio, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment journeyman, left, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. David Toman, 380 EMXS AGE craftsman, center, and U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Anna Martinez, 380 EMXS AGE journeyman, right, open their digital technical orders and toolboxes in preparation for a hard day's work May 8, 2013, here. The 380 EMXS AGE shop performs an average of 600 maintenance actions and 150 periodic inspections monthly. Maglio, a Wheatfield, Ind., native is deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. Toman, a Bismarck, N.D., native is also deployed from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. Martinez, a Highland, Calif., native is deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer)

Air Force Airman 1st Class Anna Martinez, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment journeyman, checks a B-4 maintenance stand for cracks during May 8, 2013, during a periodic inspection here. Regular inspections are crucial to maintaining the safety of the equipment for flightline personnel. Martinez is a Highland, Calif., native and is deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer)

Air Force Airman 1st Class Anna Martinez, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment journeyman, checks a B-4 maintenance stand for cracks during May 8, 2013, during a periodic inspection here. Regular inspections are crucial to maintaining the safety of the equipment for flightline personnel. Martinez is a Highland, Calif., native and is deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Durham, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment production support NCO, uses a pneumatic etcher to engrave tags with identification codes May 8, 2013, here. The tags will be attached to equipment checked out from bench stock and used to ensure accountability by assigning the specific tool code to the Airman who checks out the equipment in the computer-based tool accountability program. Durham is a native of Big Stone Gap, Va., and is deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Durham, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment production support NCO, uses a pneumatic etcher to engrave tags with identification codes May 8, 2013, here. The tags will be attached to equipment checked out from bench stock and used to ensure accountability by assigning the specific tool code to the Airman who checks out the equipment in the computer-based tool accountability program. Durham is a native of Big Stone Gap, Va., and is deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Timothy Boyer)

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- "It's the life force for aircraft maintenance. If they don't have it they can't troubleshoot their jets and if they can't troubleshoot their jets, they won't be ready to conduct the mission," said Senior Airman Austin Beard, 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment journeyman deployed from Tinker Air Force Base.

Aerospace Ground Equipment, more commonly known as AGE, is a vital part of what keeps the mission moving here.

Known on the flightline as the Airmen who deliver generators, air-conditioning carts and light carts to aircraft when needed, there is more to AGE than most realize.

"We have up to 19 people on a given shift, including leadership," explained Tech. Sgt. Michael De Trempe, 380th EMXS AGE shift leader and Peoria, Ill., native. "Of those people, we might have three working the ramps and delivering equipment, the rest are busy maintaining the equipment so it's available to be delivered when it's needed."

The small shop conducts an average of 150 periodic inspections monthly, which is similar to a 300,000-mile inspection on your car. An in-depth look at the belts, hoses, oil changes and other safety checks are performed during these inspections.

Additionally, AGE Airmen perform an average of 600 maintenance actions monthly, ensuring equipment is operational and available for the 7,000 deliveries to aircraft during any given month.

"Our equipment provides power, lighting and other essentials for maintainers to do their jobs on the aircraft," Airman Beard, the Seattle, Wash., native said. "For example, some planes use our air conditioners to keep their systems cool enough to run diagnostics during the troubleshooting process. We're here to support the crew chiefs and the mission."

AGE is one of many shops often unnoticed because things typically run smoothly, Sergeant De Trempe said as he smiled and knocked on his wooden desk. If things don't go smoothly in AGE, it can be a big deal.

"If we don't provide them what they need, there's a strong chance planes won't fly," the technical sergeant deployed from Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, explained. "Our job can be extremely difficult, but we make it look easy because we get things done."
One challenge, Sergeant De Trempe said, was when a change came down requiring the installation of gates on two types of maintenance stands.

"We had to make the changes to ensure safety and compliance, but had to make sure the flightline still had what it needed to get the mission accomplished while these repairs were being done," he said.

The bottom line, according to Airman Beard, is that the equipment is ready and promptly delivered to those who need it on the flightline. This requires both those who perform maintenance in the shop and those who deliver equipment on the flightline.

"From the lowest ranking Airman to the flight chief, everybody has a job to do and they do it well to support the mission," Sergeant De Trempe said.