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117th Maintenance Group restores RF-4C

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Faddis
  • 117th Air Refueling Wing

It’s not every day that someone can support the community, gain valuable training, and help restore history in a single job. Recently, members of the 117th Maintenance Group were able to do just that by repainting a RF-4C located in Jasper, Alabama.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Palmer, Aircraft Structural Maintenance Section Supervisor with the 117th Maintenance Squadron (MXS), explained that it took six months to plan everything out prior to assisting with the repainting of the aircraft. The job itself took a week of execution to include sanding, prepping, and completely repainting the aircraft.

“We don’t do complete repaints here. We do touch-up paint, and we paint components completely. Placing the stencils and markings where they belong wasn’t the same old cut and dry KC-135 stuff that everybody does routinely,” Palmer explained. "These guys, several of them being drill status, were able to do something on a smaller aircraft, a different airframe and with different materials."

Not only was this a training opportunity for members within that office, it allowed many members to follow the Multi-Capable Airmen (MCA) initiative and gain experience outside their normal career fields.

“We had a lot of help from the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS) and from another shop in fabrication who don’t do corrosion stuff; the sanding, the painting, all the touch-up stuff, and the masking,” Palmer said. “It helps make them multi-capable. They got experience and training in our career field that they normally wouldn’t get here.”

In addition to contributing to being multi-capable, it also incorporated the Total Force.

“We had Capt. Young, the AMXS Commander, a few crew chiefs which are all in AMXS, we had a few people from metals tech in MXS, and several people from sheet metal (MXS),” Palmer said.

In total there were 3 different shops who worked on the project. Not only from both sides of the Maintenance Group, but from both the Air National Guard and the 99th Air Refueling Squadron, an active-duty squadron stationed here.

Not only did members benefit from the training it provided, they also tapped into the 117th Air Refueling Wing’s history. The RF-4C the members worked on was originally assigned to the 117th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing and was transported via airlift under a Chinook around 1994 to its current location.

“It was cool while we were out there, at least three different former members of the 117th that lived in the area saw that we were out there and stopped and had conversations with us. Retirees from the 117th that worked on that jet when it was out here stopped and thanked us for what we were doing and talked about their time on the jet,” Palmer said. “Everyone got a little piece of history from their hands-on portion with the aircraft and from the people that stopped by.”

Palmer was impressed with the initiative that people displayed in this project.

“The members volunteered to be out of their work center to do something out in the elements that’s different and more difficult than what they would have normally done,” he said. “They worked in support of that local community, and [to uphold] the heritage of the 117th.”