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Air Force special purpose vehicle maintenance helps keep birds in the sky

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Leonard, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle mechanic, performs a ball joint replacement in the special vehicles shop April 14, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th LRS is the largest LRS in the Air Force and is composed of 757 authorized personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nick Emerick))

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Leonard, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle mechanic, performs a ball joint replacement in the special vehicles shop April 14, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th LRS is the largest LRS in the Air Force and is composed of 757 authorized personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nick Emerick))

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Leonard, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle mechanic, tightens a lug-nut during a ball joint replacement in the special vehicles shop April 14, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th LRS is responsible for all government owned vehicles on Kadena as well as their maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nick Emerick)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class William Leonard, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle mechanic, tightens a lug-nut during a ball joint replacement in the special vehicles shop April 14, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The 18th LRS is responsible for all government owned vehicles on Kadena as well as their maintenance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nick Emerick)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Randy Johnson, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant NCO in charge of the special vehicle maintenance shop, examines an engine after removing it from a truck April 26, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The Vehicle Management Flight provides fleet management/maintenance on 2,064 vehicles and is the largest active fleet in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nick Emerick)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Randy Johnson, 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant NCO in charge of the special vehicle maintenance shop, examines an engine after removing it from a truck April 26, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The Vehicle Management Flight provides fleet management/maintenance on 2,064 vehicles and is the largest active fleet in the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nick Emerick)

U.S. Air Force Airmen in the special vehicle maintenance shop with the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron examine an engine after removing it from a truck April 26, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The Vehicle Management Flight maintains more than 2,000 vehicles valued at $140 million. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nick Emerick)

U.S. Air Force Airmen in the special vehicle maintenance shop with the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron examine an engine after removing it from a truck April 26, 2016, at Kadena Air Base, Japan. The Vehicle Management Flight maintains more than 2,000 vehicles valued at $140 million. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Nick Emerick)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The special purpose vehicles shop on Kadena Air Base is responsible for vehicles that help put planes in the air.

"We deal a lot in flight line vehicles; like aircraft towing vehicles, anything big with hydraulics, we work on it," said Staff Sgt. Randy Johnson, the assistant NCO in charge of the special vehicle maintenance shop with the 18th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

From fixing ball joints and brake pads to completely replacing entire engines in some vehicles, the special purpose vehicles shop is prepared to do whatever it takes to make sure the mission can always be completed, rain or shine.

"The basic maintaining of special purpose vehicles, taking things apart, figuring out what's causing problems, whatever needs to be done," said Airman 1st Class William Leonard, 18th LRS vehicle mechanic with the special vehicle maintenance shop. "There's a ton of attention to detail involved in my job, if you mess up, like over tightening lug nuts, then you could be out a tire and then it would just come right back to the shop."

Military members in the SV shop work hand in hand with local Okinawans to maintain mission readiness and build stronger ties with the local community.

"At this point I've realized it's immeasurable, the amount of information you can learn from our civilian counterparts," said Leonard. "I could go down a stall and maybe whoever is working there won't know, but he'll know someone in the shop who knows everything there is to know."

For some members of the SV shop, being able to contribute to the Air Force in such a way is the reason they joined the military.

"I joined the military to work on vehicles, and I love working on them," said Johnson. "If any of my Airmen have any troubles with their vehicles I come out and help them out."