MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE – Since the production of the first automobile in the 19th century, vehicles have become an important aspect of daily life. From normal transportation to construction and working vehicles, they’re also used to accomplish numerous military missions.
What happens when those vehicles break down? Who fixes it? How can a vital mission run if one of the gears stops?
The 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron’s vehicle maintenance shop has it covered.
“Our priorities include the armored Humvees and BearCats,” said Airman 1st Class Joshua Byers, 341st LRS vehicle mechanic. “We also work on cranes, forklifts, passenger vehicles and snow removal equipment.”
If a vehicle needs repairs, customer service performs an incoming inspection, then routes it to the appropriate shop.
On average, the vehicle maintenance shop receives 25 to 30 vehicles per week and perform tasks from resealing leaks in the engine to complete engine and transmission rebuilds.
“Normally, vehicles come in for an annual or scheduled checkup,” said Staff Sgt. Willie Hatcher, 341st LRS firetruck and refueler maintenance apprentice. “Otherwise, it’s a simple ‘something isn’t working and we need to fix it’.
“If things are good, we can have vehicles back to duty in as little as a day,” he added. “But sometimes you just find more fixes after you fixed the initial problem.”
Incoming vehicles go through four inspections at a minimum. If the servicing requested evolves into more repairs, some vehicles can receive 10 inspections.
Once fixes have been applied, vehicles go through yet another inspection process to ensure the problem has been fixed and it is up to driving standards once again.
Afterwards, the shop NCO in charge finishes up the process with a thorough check before returning the vehicle to customer service so it can return to duty.
“We’re able to come in every day with a goal in mind and execute it,” said Byers. “Even as Airmen, we get to work on and solve problems. It gives us job satisfaction.
“Without us, there could be a delay in convoys, no transportation to and from missile alert facilities or launch facilities and snow wouldn’t get cleared,” he added. “Almost anything that involves a vehicle could not function effectively like it does now.”