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Battle born, built and won

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Noah J. Tancer
  • 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The 910th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron’s fabrication flight was tasked by the 22nd Air Force to build the inaugural Battle Born Trophy to be presented to the 22nd Air Force unit that best represents the commander’s priority of “Readiness Now” during the previous year. The flight’s response was a 100-percent in-house additive manufactured and scaled-down version of the original trophy.

“A previous MXG (910th Maintenance Group) commander, Col. Sharon Johnson, who is now the director of staff at 22nd knows our capability and knows our willingness to help wherever needed,” said Chief Master Sgt. Darin Wesoloski, fabrication flight chief assigned to the 910th AMXS. “She put the bug in their ear down there (Dobbins Air Reserve Base) that it would be a good idea to hit us up, see what we can do and challenge our abilities with additive manufacturing.”

The Battle Born Trophy was created by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce in partnership with 22nd AF to highlight the relationship between the Air Force Reserve, the Cobb Chamber and the local community and to honor 22nd AF’s past. 22nd AF began as the Domestic Division, Air Corps Ferrying Command, established on Dec. 28, 1941, Washington D.C.

“So it came to us, and of course we don’t back down from a challenge or request,” said Wesoloski. “So I got with Jim (Tech. Sgt. Jim Phillis Jr., aircraft metals tech craftsman with the 910th AMXS), we took a look at all the drawings, we contacted Col. Goldstein down there, the point of contact with the trophy shop, and they provided us with blueprints on what they were making. It wasn’t clear on what we were supposed to do whether we’re to duplicate theirs or do a variation. So we just went ahead and scaled their existing trophy that was being built down there and reproduced it here.”

The Battle Born Trophy will be awarded each July by the Cobb Chamber to the 22nd AF unit that best represents the commander’s “Readiness Now” priority. The original trophy, which will stay in the trophy room at 22nd AF, was cast out of aluminum at a trophy shop in the Dobbins ARB local community.

“I talked to (22nd AF Commander Maj. Gen. John Healy) when he was here and asked him what it cost him to get the trophy made downtown,” said Wesoloski. “The trophy shop donated the materials and the time but if you were to put a price tag on it he said it was in the thousands. The trophy we did, we probably had an hour-and-a-half of actual manhour time on it, and then with the material cost we were probably sitting at around 18 dollars.”

Seen as a valuable training opportunity and chance to show off the Youngstown Air Reserve Station’s innovation, the replica was rendered by Phillis and Brock Elsea, a mechanical engineer with the base civil engineers, using computer software and printed in five pieces on an AON-M2 High-Temperature Industrial 3D Printer.

“We printed that out, sanded it down, glued it together, you know get everything smoothed out, and then we used metallic spray paint to try and mimic the aluminum,” said Phillis. “It’s not exactly apples-to-apples. Once again, I haven’t seen what their finished product would look like, but it’s a trophy shop. It’ll probably be a really nice trophy. Ours is a smaller version of that and obviously made out of different materials.”

Out of the 13 units under the 22nd AF, the 910th Airlift Wing was selected to create the first scaled trophy and then was coincidently awarded the inaugural Battle Born Trophy. The 910th AW name will forever be engraved onto the first placard spot of the Battle Born Trophy and the fabrication shop replica will return home for display.

“We built it, and then Maj. Gen. Healy came up for Col. Van Dootingh’s (910th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Jeff Van Dootingh) change of command ceremony,” said Wesoloski. “So for a practical joke, we had it done and made the placard for the front of it saying that we won. We met Gen. Healy up in the wing commander’s conference room and, as a joke, we had it on the table all covered up and we presented it to him to hand back to us saying that we won, as a joke. Well the joke was, we come to find out, last night my Facebook blew up. Chief McKendree (910th Airlift Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Jennifer McKendree) and Col. Van Dootingh went down for the ceremony and they hit me up and said we won. So we did it as a joke, but we actually won it.”

The Air Force Instruction that governs the inaugural BBT award dictates that whoever won this year is responsible for making next year’s trophy. So though the 910th AW made the initial base award, they won, so now they in turn have to make a second trophy which will be sent down to the 22nd AF to be presented to next year’s honoree.

“We learned after we made this one that you can make it unique as long as it falls in line with the basic concept,” said Phillis. “So the one that we make for next year, because we did win this year, is gonna be a variation. It’s not going to be an exact replica every year. Whoever wins next year will be presented with the trophy we make this year which in turn whoever that winner is will make the trophy for the next year’s winner.”

The 910th Airlift Wing has been pursuing additive manufacturing methods for several years, offering an advanced means of creating the trophy. Other units may use other manufacturing methods for creating the award in subsequent years.

“It doesn’t have to be 3D-printed, it could have been made out of wood, it could have been made out of sheet metal, it could have been made out of steel, it’s up to whatever base is making it to determine the process that they want to make it,” said Wesoloski. “We did it additive because that’s the easiest, cheapest and most cost-effective way to do it.”

With continuing advancements in technology, innovation in training and strong partnerships between YARS and the local community, the 910th AW has not only made but earned its trophy and place at the forefront of the Air Force Reserve’s additive manufacturing program.