733rd AMS Aircraft Maintenance - not typical maintenance unit
KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- Across the Air Force, maintainers are working long days in every climate to ensure the Air Force is combat ready and able to defend the nation's interests.
Within the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron "Pacesetters," the maintenance flight does this every day, supporting Air Mobility Command's C-5, C-17, KC-10, and commercial contracted missions, sustaining U.S. military forces stationed in Okinawa and beyond.
"The maintenance flight's mission is a bit different than the average USAF aircraft maintenance unit," said Master Sgt. Michael Sullivan, 733rd AMS Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent.
The flight's 70 maintainers must be ready to work on many types of aircraft across varied specialties, such as crew chiefs, engines, communications and navigation, electrical and environmental systems, hydraulics, and maintenance analysis. Additionally, with en-route aircraft arriving and departing every day, with no holidays or down days, the Pacesetters must maintain four shifts in order to cover operations 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
"Having such a varied mission makes training top priority," Sullivan said. "In a normal Air Force maintenance unit, an individual is responsible for only one airframe and usually can expect aircraft available for training. On the contrary, the 733rd member must be qualified on multiple aircraft despite none being permanently assigned or necessarily readily available."
Without assigned aircraft, the Pacesetters have developed creative solutions to their unique challenge. The 733rd's training opportunities are dictated by the en-route mission flow. With most aircraft stopping for less than a day, they must take advantage of every stopover to remain mission ready.
Frequently, an aircraft on the ground means Airmen are coming in for training on their days off to take advantage of all opportunities. Many times this is not enough, and it is common to send maintainers to other bases for consolidated training events to ensure personnel remain qualified in critical tasks.
With approximately 1,000 missions per year moving 10,000 short tons of cargo and 12,000 personnel, AMC airlift is the lifeline for U.S. military on Okinawa, and the Pacesetters are making it happen. Whether it's families traveling to or from Okinawa on the Patriot Express, a contracted 747 bringing mail and household goods, a KC-10 supporting an F-22 deployment, or a C-5 deploying the III Marine Expeditionary Force, the Pacesetters are there ... proud to serve, trained and ready.