At long last, Aerial Spray maintenance hires TRs

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ann Wilkins Jefferson
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Unit approved for nine traditional reservists after years of requests

Inventor Thomas Alva Edison once said, "Many of life's failures are experienced by people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

Even though it took year upon year of requests, Aerial Spray Maintenance did not give up in seeking authorization for Traditional Reservists to join its team of Air Reserve Technicians - and in May 2007, it finally achieved success.

Tech Sgt. Shannon K. Fray became the first TR to serve with Aerial Spray Maintenance here. She is one of nine Reservists who volunteered to move to Aerial Spray Maintenance from the flightline.

Senior Master Sgt. John T. Daniels, superintendent of the Aerial Spray Maintenance and an ART here, said Aerial Spray never had authorization for TRs until approval was granted in May. But now all the slots are filled, Sergeant Daniels said. Up to that time, the Aerial Spray team consisted of just himself and seven other ARTs.

The goal of hiring TRs was set forth by Sergeant Daniels' predecessor, Senior Master Sgt. Bill Rooks, and when Sergeant Daniels took over, he continued to push for the funding.

What finally gave Aerial Spray Maintenance the go-ahead to hire TRs? Sergeant Daniels said when doing manning reductions from permanent assignments, authority allowed them to move nine (TRs) over to Aerial Spray.

"One of the driving forces for the positions to become available was the wartime document statements. And a lot of credit also goes to Master Sergeant Raymond Kuneli in the Logistics Plans and Deployments office who worked diligently in following up with the paperwork."

Aside from the novelty of Sergeant Fray being the first TR to join Aerial Spray maintenance, Sergeant Daniels emphasized a major highlight of the move: "Shannon is the first time ever Reserve flight chief in Aerial Spray Maintenance - my counterpart."

Fray was selected among several candidates to be assigned as the Reserve chief.

"I looked at candidates' backgrounds and experience, and, of course, the folks that go that extra mile," Sergeant Daniels explained.

Staff Sgt. Thomas R. Kocis, an aerial spray technician and one of the ARTs, said Sergeant Fray's work ethic, how she relates to other people and her vast knowledge of the C-130 itself helped earn her the chief job.

Sergeant Fray had already begun taking an interest in Aerial Spray when in early 2007 she learned of the TR opportunity opening up in maintenance.

"It was different and I wanted to further enhance my military career ... we heard they were trying (to get TRs hired in maintenance), and I volunteered to come over. I want to go as high as I can. I want to try and learn what I can before I retire."

Sergeant Fray believed that her selection as crew chief was due in part to having all her CDCs completed and because she considers herself to be a hard worker.

"I want to be the best chief I can be, to set a good example," she said.

Sergeant Fray, a Youngstown native who joined the Reserve in 1998 and who worked on the flightline here for eight years, will be responsible for learning the system like the other TRs as well as give senior NCO leadership and guidance. She'll have shared responsibility, training with Sergeant Daniels, he said.

This summer the other TRs in Aerial Spray began in-house training on modular aerial spray systems to bring them up to the level of the ARTs' know-how. They'll also be going on the road for training with the ART crew; Sergeant Fray was first to experience some on-the-job training, accompanying the team on a mission at Parris Island, S.C.

Now that his shop finally has TRs on staff, Sergeant Daniels has set another objective. "My goal: Within 18 months send out an all Reserve spray maintenance team on a mission," he said.

Maintaining a round-the-clock operation in Aerial Spray Maintenance here was near impossible before TRs were approved. "In the case of a 24/7 operation, you can't sustain that with only seven people with the amount of work we're tasked with. We're even limited on CONUS - we could only do so much," Sergeant Daniels said.

As of August 2007, four YARS aircraft were equipped to perform aerial spray missions, but two more are scheduled to joining those in the near future.

"We've not had this opportunity for 15 years, the opportunity to blend in with maintenance, the Wing, or the Reserve for that matter. We're the lonely stepchild, if you will," said Sergeant Daniels, who has been with Aerial Spray Maintenance since January 1992 when it was moved here from Rickenbacker ANG in Columbus, Ohio, and which continues to act as the Department of Defense's only aerial spray unit.

He continued, "This has been a long-time coming. It's humbling to know command is supportive of mission and gave us the opportunity to grow. I'm excited about it."

Edison also once said, "The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are: Hard work, Stick-to-it-iveness, and Common sense." Thanks to Aerial Spray maintenance's "stick-to-it-iveness" and the new TR volunteers, they've achieved success.
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