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Shells on shells on shells

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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Zachary McGrail, 18th Munitions Squadron munitions storage crew member, calls out serial numbers to Senior Airman Roderick Harris, 18th MUNS munitions storage crew member, Dec. 19, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th MUNS provides the wing and associate units with munitions for more than 6,000 annual sorties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Quay Drawdy)

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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Isaiah Colter, 18th Munitions Squadron munitions storage crew member, works to remove straps securing munitions before they are unloaded Dec. 19, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th MUNS provides the wing and associate units with munitions for more than 6,000 annual sorties. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Quay Drawdy)

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U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Isaiah Colter, 18th Munitions Squadron munitions storage crew member, removes straps securing munitions before they are unloaded Dec. 19, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The squadron maintains a stockpile of munitions valued at more than $900 million with 475 facilities and 200 vehicles within 5,900 acres. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Quay Drawdy)

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Thomas Nollie, 18th Munitions Squadron stockpile management crew chief, approaches a forklift storing munitions Dec. 19, 2017, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th MUNS operates the Air Force’s largest conventional munitions storage area, supporting activities of all U.S. services on Okinawa. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Quay Drawdy)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --

When “the office” takes up nearly 6,000 acres, it’s no stretch to claim being the largest. The 18th Munitions Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan, can say just that, occupying a large portion of the base and standing as the most expansive conventional munitions storage area in the Air Force.

Being as massive as the 18th MUNS is comes with challenges that the Airmen of Kadena AB must rise to meet. 

“It’s crazy high paced, but that’s part of the fun,” said Staff Sgt. Audrey MacKenzie, 18th MUNS stockpile supervisor. “The big operations are my favorite because it shows me more of the big picture. Things only get dull when it’s slow, but that hardly happens here.” 

Slow or fast, when it comes to potentially volatile material, there is no room for error. 

“Fitting everything into its storage area is like a giant puzzle with a weight-balancing component,” said MacKenzie. “We have to be sure that only the same types of munitions go into storage together, old items are removed and replaced and we have to be careful with how and where things are stored. You can’t skate by doing the bare minimum in ammo. Attention to detail is absolutely vital.” 

Even with the pressure of the 18th MUNS size, mission and dangers, the impact of the job isn’t lost on the Airmen. 

“I definitely enjoy what I do,” said Senior Airman Roderick Harris, 18th MUNS munitions storage crew member. “We’re the first stop in the chain when it comes to the weapons and countermeasures for the aircraft. Without MUNS, our jets wouldn’t have what they need and that would mean total mission stoppage.” 

Showing pride and dedication in their work is part of what makes the 18th MUNS, where more than $947 million worth of material is located, the go-to squadron for conventional munitions throughout the Pacific. 

“It’s definitely a unique experience working overseas on a mission of this scale,” said MacKenzie. “I’m always looking forward to what comes next.”