ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. – Andrea Tosolini said he feels like he won the lottery.
That’s because the Florida native was sworn in as the 1,200th employee to be hired under the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex’s “1200 in 12” hiring initiative launched last summer.
The new engineering technician will be working in the 402nd Aircraft Maintenance Group Engineering Branch on F-15 Eagles – an aircraft he says he’s had an affinity for since an early age.
“My cousin in Italy used to travel to air shows all over the world, and his favorite airplane was the F-15,” he said. “He had a little model set up in the basement of his parents’ house that had a series of F-15s with the line crew and everything else…all the support equipment.
“I had a fascination with it mainly because of him and just the design of it,” he added. “He showed me pictures and videos, and as I got older, I started watching more of it.
“It became a love affair, to be honest,” he said with a grin.
The Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex announced its initiative during a press conference Aug. 15, 2018. The task at hand was to hire 1,200 new workers within 12 months, or by the end of fiscal 2019. At the time, 7,200 personnel worked for the complex, providing maintenance and repair for several aircraft and components, as well as the F-15 engineering.
Even though the complex has reached its goal of ‘1200 in 12’ – and early no less – there are plans to keep picking up new hires.
“We’re continuously seeking well qualified candidates for our critical jobs,” said Brig. Gen. John Kubinec, Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex commander. “Our maintenance professionals are the best in the world. When they come to work at Robins Air Force Base, it’s because they have a higher calling…a yearning to be part of something bigger than themselves. Without them, we can’t deliver air power to our warfighters around the globe. So yes, we’re always looking for prime candidates to help complete our vital mission.”
And those necessities are what the initiative was all about. The complex needed new workers because of an increase in workload, Kubinec said during the press conference announcing the initiative. Tosolini, whose 21-year military background had more than prepared him, jumped at the opportunity to apply.
“I had a long career with F-15s before a humanitarian (transfer) switched me to tankers,” he said. “So, when I saw there was the opportunity in the engineering department working on the F-15s and being around the aircraft, I knew I had to do it.”
Tosolini said that although his career hasn’t always been smooth sailing, it definitely gave him the tools he needs to successfully get the job done at Robins Air Force Base.
“There (have been) a lot of ups and downs in my career,” he said. “The downs obviously prepared me for new challenges and made me tougher and more resilient – whether it was on the line or off the line. It put me pretty much in that sweet spot for what I’ll be doing here.”
The complex develops and fields new technologies and innovations for the Air Force enterprise to improve support to the warfighter by decreasing timelines, improving quality and reducing costs. As a new hire, Tosolini said he is excited to do his part.
“I want to be able to affect the younger Airmen and units out in the Air Force who have F-15s that might be having problems,” Tosolini said. “I want to do something that’s going to allow them to have an easier job…to try to make improvements for those that are still out in the units working on them, fixing them, flying them and keeping them in the fight.”
Hiring 1,200 highly-skilled employees to work for the Air Force in a year was a daunting task. Sen. David Perdue and Rep. Austin Scott and their work on the Committee on Armed Services allowed the air logistics complex to have direct hiring authority. That means hiring for these jobs -- and future ones -- was much faster.
Base officials said the initiative equates to an annual economic impact of $69 million, and more than $345 million during the next five years. The new jobs have brought excitement to middle Georgia, but it’s important to remember that it’s about more than the jobs – it’s about what is needed by the warfighters.