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Dyess Airman tapped for presidential maintenance

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, thoroughly inspects turbine blades inside a B-1 engine Nov. 17, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The white coveralls worn while inspecting the engine keep maintainers from dropping tools or parts in the inlets or exhaust.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, thoroughly inspects turbine blades inside a B-1 engine Nov. 17, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. The white coveralls worn while inspecting the engine keep maintainers from dropping tools or parts in the inlets or exhaust. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, maintains the engines of the B-1 bomber Nov. 17, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Blanton has been in the Air Force since 2005 and has been working on B-1?s for four years. ?I?ve worked on several aircraft in my career, but the B-1 has definitely the got to be my favorite; its challenging to work on, but I like it,? he said. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, maintains the engines of the B-1 bomber Nov. 17, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Blanton has been in the Air Force since 2005 and has been working on B-1?s for four years. ?I?ve worked on several aircraft in my career, but the B-1 has definitely the got to be my favorite; its challenging to work on, but I like it,? he said. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, inspects the inlet of a B-1 engine for possible damage Nov. 17, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Blanton is a jet engine specialist for the B-1 Lancer. He is responsible for inspecting, diagnosing, and repairing the engines.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, inspects the inlet of a B-1 engine for possible damage Nov. 17, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Blanton is a jet engine specialist for the B-1 Lancer. He is responsible for inspecting, diagnosing, and repairing the engines.(U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, checks the connection to a fuel system component Nov. 17, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Blanton has extensive training on B-1 engine maintenance and is qualified to completely remove, disassemble and reassemble the jet engines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, checks the connection to a fuel system component Nov. 17, 2013, at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Blanton has extensive training on B-1 engine maintenance and is qualified to completely remove, disassemble and reassemble the jet engines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, finishes an inspection of a B-1 bomber Nov. 17, 2013 at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Blanton uses a laptop and safety manual to begin maintenance on the plane for the day. Very specific safety protocols must be followed in order to safely work on the multi-million dollar aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero/Released)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, finishes an inspection of a B-1 bomber Nov. 17, 2013 at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas. Blanton uses a laptop and safety manual to begin maintenance on the plane for the day. Very specific safety protocols must be followed in order to safely work on the multi-million dollar aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero/Released)

DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Not many Air Force maintainers get a chance to be part of the aircraft fleet that provides support to the President of the United States, but for one Dyess Airman that prestigious opportunity has arrived.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Blanton, 7th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron B-1 jet engine specialist, was selected for a maintenance position on the presidential aircraft fleet. He applied for the special duty assignment after finding out about the opportunity through a fellow Airman who was stationed with him in Southwest Asia.

"Applying was a pretty long and drawn out process," Blanton said. "I had to fill out a 200-part questionnaire, have them run a background check and take an official photo in my blues to make sure I didn't have any visible tattoos. That was just to start the process."
Blanton explained that he feels the process is worth the chance of having such a unique career experience.

"Not everyone gets a chance to work on such an important piece of government equipment," Blanton said. "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I feel great about it."

In-depth screening of applicants is common, especially for job positions of this level. Only the most qualified technicians get a position on the POTUS maintenance fleet. Blanton credits his level of skill to help in his selection.

"I've been working hard to make myself stand out to have a better chance at this," Blanton said. "I strive to be the best in my career field, to give myself opportunities like this. In fact, I'll be the lowest ranking member there; most of the maintainers are master sergeants or senior master sergeants. "

Many people attribute their success to not only personal motivation but support from those around them; this B-1 maintenance NCO is no different.

"My supervisors definitely helped me get here, but in particular there was a Master Sgt. Smith who was very influential in helping me hone my skills," Blanton said. "Also, obviously my wife, she's always been supportive of me."

Many times those who apply for a special duty package, do so not only to contribute to the Air Force outside their job, but to progress further in their career. A short term special duty assignment may be all that is needed to propel an Airman's entire future.

"I want to be a chief master sergeant one day, and this job will help me get there," Blanton said. "I believe it'll get me pointed in the best possible direction for my career."

This special duty has a length of five years minimum, but Blanton hopes to extend until the end of his Air Force career. Although he is moving on and will be leaving Dyess for his new installation in late 2014, he won't forget his fellow Airmen here who helped him get to where he is now.

"I'm going to miss the bomber world," Blanton said. "It's kind of like its own culture, and the B-1 is among the best planes in the Air Force. I'll definitely miss it, but I can't pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity."

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