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Vehicle maintenance provides steady support

Vehicle maintainer fixing a vehicle.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Hunter Richards, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance journeyman, unscrews bolts before changing a battery Aug. 4, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The primary responsibility for vehicle maintainers like him is to ensure the Wing is always provided with safe and serviceable vehicles in order to meet mission requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

Airman replaces a filter.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Roderick Currin, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance journeyman, removes a filter from a vehicle Aug. 4, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The mission of the vehicle management flight is to provide safe and serviceable vehicles while prioritizing the maintenance of the Air Force’s largest vehicle fleet. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

Airman fixes a vehicle.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class David Orellana, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron special purpose maintenance apprentice, checks the wiring of an asphalt recycler Aug. 4, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Vehicle maintenance can perform vehicle repairs from small body damage to a full replacement, for more than 100 vehicles, keeping them mission ready at all times. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

Airman changes a tire.

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Jerry Rawlison, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance apprentice, removes the bolts while changing a tire Aug. 4, 2020, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. Airmen from the 18th LRS vehicle management flight are responsible for maintenance on nearly 2,400 vehicles and on average have 400 vehicles in the shop per month. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan --

Across the globe, COVID-19 is challenging Airmen to maintain mission effectiveness in new and unique ways. With operations still going at a record pace, support service elements are meeting this challenge with just as much tenacity.

Members of the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s vehicle management flight enacted separate shifts so the work can be accomplished safely and effectively.

"Our flight’s mission is to provide safe and serviceable vehicles while prioritizing the maintenance of the Air Force’s largest vehicle fleet," said 1st Lt. Joanne Naumann, 18th LRS vehicle management flight commander. "The vehicle management flight supports the 18th Wing and our mission partners. We are responsible for 2,400 vehicles and on average have 400 vehicles in the shop per month.

Vehicle maintenance can perform vehicle repairs from small body damage to a full replacement, for more than 100 vehicles, keeping them mission ready at all times.

"I enjoy working on the different types of vehicles," said Airman 1st Class David Orellana, 18th LRS special purpose maintenance apprentice. "I think troubleshooting the vehicles is fun and most importantly rewarding because you are taking something that’s broken, finding out what is wrong with it, fixing it, and then watching it be returned to service."   

Orellana explained the primary responsibility for vehicle maintainers like him is to ensure the Wing is always provided with safe and serviceable vehicles in order to meet mission requirements.

"My section is exceptionally important because we work primarily on flight-line vehicles and construction equipment," he said.

Allowing members to spread out across shifts also help continue maintenance so more vehicles are ready to meet mission requirements, while giving the Airmen opportunities to reach out to family members back in the United States.

"I think the evening shift is great because it gives me time to talk to my family back home," Orellana explained. "I also like that it’s cooler in the evenings. The Okinawa summers are really hot and humid so swing shifts get us out of the direct sunlight for a bit. But honestly, I love my job and am happy to have this opportunity."