Display

18th OSS AFE understands 'gravity' of parachutes

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marques Bones, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment specialist, inspects parachute cords for an Advanced Concept Ejection Seat II on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2014. The parachute is designed to provide safe escape at aircraft speeds from zero to 600 knots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marques Bones, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment specialist, inspects parachute cords for an Advanced Concept Ejection Seat II on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2014. The parachute is designed to provide safe escape at aircraft speeds from zero to 600 knots. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Travis Crawford, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment specialist, packs a back-style emergency parachute on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2014. The parachute is stored on heavy aircraft such as MC-130P Combat Shadows for emergency evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Travis Crawford, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment specialist, packs a back-style emergency parachute on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2014. The parachute is stored on heavy aircraft such as MC-130P Combat Shadows for emergency evacuation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

A member of the 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment references technical orders as he packs a drogue parachute on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2014. The drogue parachute is designed to slow down and stabilize the ejection seat when in the air. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

A member of the 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment references technical orders as he packs a drogue parachute on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2014. The drogue parachute is designed to slow down and stabilize the ejection seat when in the air. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Isaiah Sigler, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment specialist, checks the pressure of a twenty-man raft as Senior Airman Zachary Gribble, 18th OSS aircrew flight equipment specialist, inflates it to test for leaks and serviceability on Kadena Air Base, Japan May 21, 2014. The 18th OSS aircrew flight equipment maintains parachutes, life preservers, survival kits and life-sustaining equipment for more than 80 aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Isaiah Sigler, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment specialist, checks the pressure of a twenty-man raft as Senior Airman Zachary Gribble, 18th OSS aircrew flight equipment specialist, inflates it to test for leaks and serviceability on Kadena Air Base, Japan May 21, 2014. The 18th OSS aircrew flight equipment maintains parachutes, life preservers, survival kits and life-sustaining equipment for more than 80 aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Raul Gonzalez, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment specialist, sews a water survival suit for pilots on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2014. The 18th OSS aircrew flight equipment can manufacture ejection seat covers, fix straps for bomb racks and sew together nearly any life support equipment aircraft crew members need. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Raul Gonzalez, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment specialist, sews a water survival suit for pilots on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2014. The 18th OSS aircrew flight equipment can manufacture ejection seat covers, fix straps for bomb racks and sew together nearly any life support equipment aircraft crew members need. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Stephen Carter, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment packs a drogue parachute while Staff Sgt. Marques Bones, 18th OSS aircrew flight equipment specialist inspects his work on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2014. Each parachute goes through up to seven in-process inspections, as well as a final quality control inspection to maintain safety standards. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Stephen Carter, 18th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment packs a drogue parachute while Staff Sgt. Marques Bones, 18th OSS aircrew flight equipment specialist inspects his work on Kadena Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2014. Each parachute goes through up to seven in-process inspections, as well as a final quality control inspection to maintain safety standards. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Marcus Morris)

KADENA Air Base, Japan -- A pararescueman leaps out of the aircraft intent on saving a life. He pulls the cord knowing the parachute will open and allow him to land safely.

Every day people rely on lifesaving equipment to function properly with little time to sit and wonder what will happen if it fails.

The Airmen from the 18th Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment have a pledge to pack every parachute as though they were going to jump with it themselves and to keep in mind that until people grow wings, their parachutes must be dependable.
 
They take this pledge so seriously that every parachute and life-support device goes through up to seven in-process inspections by multiple individuals and a final quality control inspection from a third person once the product has made it through those inspections.

"We have to make sure the equipment is properly packed and not rushed," said Master Sgt. Michael Kerin, 18th OSS AFE NCO in charge. "If a pilot ejects, they don't need another thing to worry about during an emergency."

The 18th OSS has the largest combat AFE program in the Air Force and is in charge of more than 10,000 life sustaining equipment items for 11 squadrons, an Air Combat Control Detachment and more than 80 aircrafts.

Kerin said since this base since this base isn't just a fighter base or a heavy base, it allows our Airmen a unique opportunity to train with many different parachutes, life preservers and life sustaining equipment that other bases don't have.

While the shop has more than 60 members, most of the Airmen are dispersed throughout many squadrons to instruct aircrews on the operations, care and use of their aircrew flight equipment such as helmets, oxygen masks, flotation devices and other survival gear.

"Since we work so closely with pilots, we have to be ready to deploy at a moment's notice," said Kerin. "If a pilot goes on a temporary deployment we have to temporarily deploy to support them, so we have twice the work a normal shop has."

Packing a parachute can be a day-long task and with more than 1,000 pararescue jumps happening annually, staying ahead of the workflow can be a challenge.

"Our job doesn't stop just because of a holiday," said Staff Sgt. Marques Bones, 18th OSS AFE specialist. "If we get time off, we have to make it up by working harder while not getting lax and treating it like factory work."