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2d Munitions Squadron: Airmen sending their best

By 2d Lt. Frank Hartnett The Bombardier

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In a squadron made up of more than 700 Airmen, sometimes it's hard to see where you fit in the big picture.

The 2d Munitions squadron is one of the larger squadrons at Barksdale, and like any other squadron, it performs a vital part of the wing's mission. Its main mission is to receive, maintain and, when necessary, provide the firepower that makes the B-52 a feared weapons platform.

But how does that mission happen? The answer can be found in the junior Airmen of the munitions squadron. They make up the manpower that completes the daily tasks and prepares for the major inspections.

Even though the iron curtain has fallen and the cold war has ended; the B-52 still maintains an important role in deterrence. The strategic weapons flight stores and maintains the strategic weapons which remain a prominent player in America's deterrence. These Airmen help make sure that would-be adversaries think twice before using weapons of mass destruction. The famous airframe isn't the only piece of equipment that is aging; Airmen regularly provide preventive maintenance on the strategic weapons that need to be mission ready if the unthinkable happens.

One of the Airmen who has this critical task is Airman First Class Derrick Gordon, a missile maintainer from the strategic weapons flight.

"I like my job, I love mechanical types of jobs," said Airman Gordon. However, his job can be dangerous. "We have pinch points, heavy objects overhead and there are chemical and electrical hazards."

Working on weapons that have high security requirements sometimes makes for awkward calls back to family and friends. "Usually what I do is just say it was a good day or it went as planned," said Airman Gordon. "But I don't get into the details."

Despite the secretive nature of some of his work he still takes pride in what he does.

"Like any other job you learn to love it and appreciate what you do," said Airman Gordon. "Working on a cruise missile is basically like working on a very small aircraft with a very important job."

Keeping the largest fleet of bombers in the Air Force combat ready requires the squadron to manage large amounts of munitions. Someone needs to keep track of what has been ordered and what is on-hand to prevent shortfalls and maintain accountability. That person is Senior Airman Thomas Bryant, a munitions accountability technician.

"We are accountable for all conventional mission components," said Senior Airman Bryant. "Fuses, bombs, missiles and bullets, basically we track anything that goes boom."

Capt. Jason Freels, munitions accountable systems officer, explained the system in simpler terms.

"Think of it as a bank," said Captain Freels. "Security Forces requests a certain amount of ammo for the next calendar year. It's people like Airman Bryant that help make sure those requests are taken care of."

Recording keeping is critical for both munitions and money. "The problem is, you can't withdraw what you don't have," said Captain Freels. "If the bank doesn't keep good records you don't know what you have and for our line of work, that's unacceptable."

The munitions accountability office keeps track of more than $67 million worth of weapons; providing the munitions needed for 2,860 sorties.

Luckily, technology is helping to keep track of the lethal hardware entrusted to the munitions squadron. "It's a lot easier to keep and track controlled items and accountable documents now that we have gone electronic." said Airman Bryant.

The hard work of these Airmen doesn't just support the daily B-52 operations. They also arm the aircrews that visit Barksdale for exercises such as Green Flag East. They provide the Honor Guard with the blank cartridges for funeral services and ground burst simulators to the plans and programs office for base-wide training. The work of the junior Airmen of the 2d Munitions Squadron is far reaching however their main goal remains the same, providing the warfighters with the weapons they need.