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Kadena's 733rd: The maintenance section

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Otos, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron avionics technician craftsman, marshals a C-17 Globemaster III into its spot on the flight line for inspection and servicing on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 9, 2014. The 733rd AMS aircraft maintenance unit maintains multiple airframes on Kadena to ensure aircraft are mission ready at all times. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Otos, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron avionics technician craftsman, marshals a C-17 Globemaster III into its spot on the flight line for inspection and servicing on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 9, 2014. The 733rd AMS aircraft maintenance unit maintains multiple airframes on Kadena to ensure aircraft are mission ready at all times. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Otos, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron avionics technician craftsman, completes the avionics fault checklist for the C-17 Globemaster III on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 9, 2014. The fault checklist is one of the means the 733rd AMS uses to ensure safe operation of the aircraft they maintain. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Nicholas Otos, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron avionics technician craftsman, completes the avionics fault checklist for the C-17 Globemaster III on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 9, 2014. The fault checklist is one of the means the 733rd AMS uses to ensure safe operation of the aircraft they maintain. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cesar Rodriguez, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron electrical and environmental technician craftsman, drains hydraulic fluid from reserve on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 9, 2014. The 733rd AMS maintainers must be ready to work on many types of aircraft across varied specialties including engines, hydraulics, communications and navigation and electrical and environmental systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Cesar Rodriguez, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron electrical and environmental technician craftsman, drains hydraulic fluid from reserve on Kadena Air Base, Japan, Sept. 9, 2014. The 733rd AMS maintainers must be ready to work on many types of aircraft across varied specialties including engines, hydraulics, communications and navigation and electrical and environmental systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Zackary A. Henry)

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- (Editor's note: This is the first installment of a three-part series on the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron.)

Maintainers are a crucial part of the Air Force, working long days and nights in every type of weather imaginable to make sure all of the aircraft are always mission ready. The 733rd Air Mobility Squadron manage all passengers and cargo traveling by air in and out of Kadena as well as the maintenance of various aircraft.

Though most maintenance units are responsible for a specific airframe, the 733rd AMS aircraft maintenance section ensures the safe and reliable maintenance of the Air Mobility Command's C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, KC-10 Extender and commercial-contracted missions.

"The Airmen are truly the heart and soul of this mission," said Maj. Jason Carney, 733rd AMS maintanence operations officer. "Without them, planes don't get fixed and can't continue their mission from Kadena, which would be a large problem for the Air Force."

While most maintenance squadrons have designated flights, the 733rd AMS airmen are responsible for all of the jobs while the aircraft are stopped at Kadena.

"This includes marshaling, fueling, maintenance, servicing and acting as point of contact for any specialists that may be needed such as radar or communications," said Senior Airman Wiley Hernandez, 733rd Air Mobility Squadron aerospace maintenance journeyman. "Essentially, we are responsible for anything and everything on the aircraft from touchdown to take off."

With such a diverse selection of airframes, the Airmen of the 733rd AMS have to be able to adjust their responsibilities and take on new tasks for each aircraft that lands.

"Even though by trade I am a crew chief, I often have to cover electrical and environmental topics and same for them," said Hernandez. "It's a very diverse mission that makes us unique."

There's another small difference that makes the 733rd a bit unlike other maintenance squadrons. The 733rd AMS doesn't actually own any aircraft. The only chance they have to work on an aircraft is when they land, sometimes for as little as three hours, and they are gone again.

This creates a constant need for training and is also why the 733rd AMS maintenance flight is attends temporary duty assignments to places like Travis Air Force Base, Calif., to get hands-on experience with different aircraft.

With a mission supporting everything from families traveling to or from Okinawa on the Patriot Express to a contracted Boeing 747 bringing in mail and household goods, the 733rd AMS provides critical support to the Kadena mission.