Load barn Airmen put the precise in precision
By Senior Airman Shannon Hall, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 22, 2013
DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The B-1 Bomber is known world-wide for its deadly precision, but who are the people behind the Lancer's strike capability?
Airmen, who work in the load barn from the 7th Munitions Squadron, spend their days training, being evaluated and sometimes participating in competitions to ensure their weapon loading skills remain precise and up to Air Force standards.
"Weapons troops are evaluated and re-certified on a monthly basis," said Staff Sgt. Joshua Forrest, 7th Munitions Squadron load crew member. "By doing this, we can stay proficient in our job, which also ensures that the B-1 remains the number one bomber."
Knowing the B-1's overall weapons system is important because it is the load crew member's job to understand the way the weapons work from start to finish. They are trained on loading approximately 16 different weapons, with the most common being the joint direct attack munitions, known as the "JDAM" in the munitions community.
"We maintain the entire weapons system, including the systems required for weapons release," said Tech. Sgt. Herman Basped, 7th Munitions Squadron loading standardization crew member. "We also maintain the aircraft's electric and hydraulic systems if necessary."
Although the shop is fully manned with only 18 people, the Airmen have to learn to work as a team in tight quarters, all while efficiently loading, unloading and maintaining the weapons system in a correct and timely matter.
"The team work required to get four individuals on the same sheet of music to perform as a unit cannot be quantified," Basped said. "My work is most rewarding when my Airmen deploy and are able to be relied upon to perform accordingly and exceed the standards that weapons standardization has set. It is really a sight to see."
Through all the training, evaluations and competitions that take place, the munitions squadron is able to provide the Air Force with confident and competent load crew members.
"Weapons standardization has given me the opportunity to see a different side of my career field and watch my Airmen grow," Forrest said. "Most enlisted members do not get to experience this. It gives you the ability to make a difference; besides working with the B-1 Lancer, is rewarding in itself. "