Honor, Respect, Devotion to Duty: Air Station Clearwater

Written by Petty Officer 1st Class Michael De Nyse

The Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater team stands for a photo at the start of the 2017 Aerospace Maintenance Competition in Orlando, Fla., April 25, 2017. The team was challenged to 25 events that tested their maintenance abilities in timed trials. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Scott Burns.

The Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater team stands for a photo at the start of the 2017 Aerospace Maintenance Competition in Orlando, Fla., April 25, 2017. The team was challenged to 25 events that tested their maintenance abilities in timed trials. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Scott Burns.

The Coast Guard sent two teams to compete in the military category of the 2017 Aerospace Maintenance Competition, a two-day event from April 25-27, 2017, presented by Snap-on Tools at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

The Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater team and the Coast Guard Aeronautical Engineers team attended the event; team Clearwater took first place in the military division and were presented plaques celebrating their win.

The Air Station Clearwater team consisted of: Chief Petty Officer Scott Burns, team captain, Petty Officer 1st Class Jonathan Herring, Petty Officer 1st Class Joshua Russell, Petty Officer 2nd Class Dustin Lachney, Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Wallace, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Aycock.

“I was extremely proud and we were all very surprised,” said Burns. “All of the teams were very impressive; the military teams were squared away and had obviously sent the best they had.”

Burns attributes his team’s success to the overall well rounded training they receive as aviation maintenance technicians (AMT) and avionics electrical technicians (AET) throughout their careers.

“The Coast Guard is different than the other services in the fact that we train our maintainers to know something about everything,” said Burns. “We do a lot of cross training and it is not uncommon for an AMT to be required to work on electrical discrepancies, and AETs to be working on mechanical problems. The other services are generally very specific in their ratings.”

The AMC competition is set up from a civilian AMT standpoint, and they require all competitors to be proficient in multiple fields as well. The teams were challenged to 25 events that tested their maintenance abilities in timed trials.

Members from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater complete an aviation maintenance task during a two-day competition held in Orlando, Fla., April 25, 2017. The team was surrounded by some of the top professionals in the field of aviation maintenance from around the world. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Scott Burns.

Members from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater complete an aviation maintenance task during a two-day competition held in Orlando, Fla., April 25, 2017. The team was surrounded by some of the top professionals in the field of aviation maintenance from around the world. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Scott Burns.

“While we all have our own areas of expertise, our well roundedness is what sets Coast Guard members apart from other services and the other teams,” said Burns.

The Air Station Clearwater team is accustomed to working as a team often with people from different shifts they have never met.

“Our team was from the same air station, but members were selected from two different airframes and multiple shifts,” said Burns. “These guys had never worked with each other as a whole before. Due to adhering to daily standards in maintenance in our day-to-day jobs, it was easy for these guys to come together and complete all tasking safely, efficiently and correctly as a team.”

The competition hosted 55 teams of aviation maintenance professionals representing the military, commercial airlines, maintenance repair operations (MRO) specialists, and colleges nation-wide.

“Their performance demonstrated the high level of professionalism that Coast Guard aircraft maintainers possess,” said Coast Guard Master Chief Petty Officer Kit Harris, Aviation Maintenance Technician Rating Force Master Chief and Coast Guard Aeronautical Engineer team member. “This is especially impressive as the other military teams are maintainers only. Our maintenance personnel also have to maintain proficiency as aircrew.”

The AMC drew a record number of 51 teams this year to the event held in conjunction with Aviation Week Network’s MRO Americas and was also live-streamed this year—which drew 6,300 virtual visitors from 39 countries.

“The outstanding performance of the Air Station Clearwater team is a testament to the constant pursuit of excellence for aviation maintenance throughout the Coast Guard, but in this case especially for some brilliant hard-working maintainers from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater,” said Capt. Edward Sandlin, Air Station Clearwater commanding officer. “They should take great pride in their teamwork, professionalism, and superb performance that were clearly demonstrated in this demanding competition – I know I do!”

A member of the Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater team holds their winning plaque after taking first place in the military division of the 2017 Aerospace Maintenance Competition in Orlando, Fla., April 27, 2017. The team demonstrated their constant pursuit of excellence for aviation maintenance in the two-day competition. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Scott Burns.

A member of the Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater team holds their winning plaque after taking first place in the military division of the 2017 Aerospace Maintenance Competition in Orlando, Fla., April 27, 2017. The team demonstrated their constant pursuit of excellence for aviation maintenance in the two-day competition. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer Scott Burns.

Both Coast Guard teams were very humbled to be able to participate in such a large competition, surrounded by some of the top professionals in the field of aviation maintenance from around the world.

“We would like to thank the Air Station Station Clearwater Chief’s Mess for raising the funds specifically for this trip,” said Burns. “We would also like to thank the 2017 AMC facilitators, specifically Ken MacTiernan for his above and beyond support throughout the whole process.”

The Coast Guard Aeronautical Engineers team is comprised of unit nominees for the Oliver F. Berry Aviation Maintenance Award.

The Oliver F. Berry Aviation Maintenance Award provides recognition to Coast Guard Enlisted Aviation Maintenance Technicians who demonstrate exceptional performance or provide outstanding contributions in the area of aviation maintenance. Nominees may be from any Coast Guard aviation enlisted rating or rank, whose performance has resulted in exceptional improvements in the Coast Guard Aviation Maintenance Program.

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