ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE S.D. | One-point-two billion dollars .… Most people won’t see that much money in 10 lifetimes.
But the Airmen of the 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron Materiel Management flight work with parts worth that amount every day as they ensure B-1 bombers are mission ready and mobility supplies are available for deploying Airmen at a moment’s notice.
With more than 14,000 aircraft parts and assets processed a year, M-flight is pivotal in maintaining Ellsworth’s record-setting operations tempo.
One of the shops dedicated to the rapid repair of parts is the Flight Service Center.
“We are responsible for receiving and logging any aircraft parts that break,” said Airman 1st Class Alyssa Dreksler, a Flight Service Center technician assigned to the 28th LRS. “We monitor the whole process to make sure that nobody drops the ball. The longer a part takes to get fixed the longer the aircraft is grounded which costs precious time and money so we make sure it gets back on the plane as quick as possible.”
When a part needs replaced it can usually be found in the Central Storage section. With more than 18,000 assets worth more than $80 million, the section allows for replacement parts to be acquired and ensure a quick turnaround to keep the B-1s in the air, with the average wait time under 10 minutes.
“We are like a 24-hour convenience shop of B-1 parts,” said Senior Airman Tyler Stover, an aircraft parts store technician assigned to the 28th LRS. “No matter the time or the weather we help keep the B-1 put together.”
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Parts aren’t the only thing Materiel Management keeps ready at all times though. Senior Airman Brandon Scott, an individual protective equipment technician assigned to the 28th LRS stated that the unit is ready to build mobility bags at a moment’s notice to meet tasking requirements. “That includes everything from body armor to gas masks and anything in between.”
The IPE section also maintains the second largest armory on base, keeping numerous weapons cleaned and serviceable.
All of the sections work in cohesion to keep the mission going both at home station and deployed.
“You can’t fly without supply,” said Master Sgt. Velma Wynn, the Materiel Management Flight Chief assigned to the 28th LRS. “All the shops work together, and it not only keeps the B-1 flying, but also gets them out of the shop and into the air as quickly as possible.”
The impact of material management is even more impressive with its limited personnel.
“We used to be an entire squadron with around 150 people, now we are just a flight with 53 and still doing the same job at the same tempo,” Wynn said. “It’s a testament to the resiliency and competency of our Airmen.”