Shells on shells on shells

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Quay Drawdy
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs

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.”