AFREP: The last stop for maintenance
By Airman 1st Class Charles V. Rivezzo, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 17, 2012
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- In a time when budgets are shrinking and money is tight, shops across the Air Force are trying to find ways to do more with less. However, there is a little known program that has been working behind the scenes to alleviate some of these financial issues.
As the last stop in the maintenance world before broken parts make their way to the trash, Dyess' Repair Enhancement Program uses innovative initiatives to repair aircraft, aircraft support equipment and other things at different areas of the base that would normally be thrown away.
"We are the highest level of maintenance on base. If we can't fix it it's not getting fixed," said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Howard, 7th Maintenance Operations Squadron AFREP manager. "We never say we can't fix something, we always say bring it in and let us take a look at it before throwing it away."
The program allows used equipment that would otherwise be disposed of to be returned to the supply system for future consumption. Money saved from recycling aircraft parts is passed on to the wing to use for funding of base improvements and quality of life projects.
"This shop is a no-kidding force multiplier," said Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Swanger, 7th Maintenance Operations Squadron Quality Assurance chief. "They are literally fixing things that at one time the Air Force couldn't fix; everything from an aircraft part to a stop light to a battery charger, it's limitless."
The shop's main customer base lies with the B-1 Bomber, but they do support every functional group on base. The technicians use their expertise to fix anything from a circuit board to the honor guard's electronic bugle; all while saving the Air Force money.
In the last year alone, this five-man shop generated more than $3.2 million for Dyess.
The AFREP shop is represented by Tech. Sgt. Matthew Howard, Staff Sgt. Karl Muench, Staff Sgt. Ron Camacho, Staff Sgt. Matthew Christian and Senior Airman Aimee Ruiz.
These maintainers hail from various Air Force job specialties, but they do have one thing in common. They were hand-picked for AFREP, and attended a six-week training course, that featured precise repair methods foreign to most maintainers, including work with circuit cards, microscopes and micro-soldering equipment.
"We don't just take anyone," Howard said. "We want somebody who's good at taking stuff apart and putting it back together without having an instruction manual. These Airmen are some of the brightest minds in the maintenance community."
"The scope of AFREP gives me a unique prospective on the Air Force," said Muench. "I get to work for many different organizations on base and I am constantly challenged. I get to see aspects of the Air Force I normally would not be exposed to and now have a greater visibility of budgets and how Air Force finances work. This along with the many other jobs and responsibilities that I have, I have gained a much greater understanding of the maintenances concept and our place in it."