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Selfridge Engine Mechanics: ‘A Sense of Accomplishment’

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Though he's working to become certified as an automobile mechanic in his civilian job, Michigan Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Justin Harris likes working on something just a little different every now and then.

"I like to do something that's a little outside my typical activity on my civilian job," said Harris, minutes after finishing up with some refresher training on his "something different" - a TF-34 jet engine, the big beast of a machine that powers an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft through the sky.

"It gives you a sense of accomplishment to come in here and to be able to work on one of these," Harris said, pointing to the engine behind him in the maintenance bay.

Harris is a member of the 127th Maintenance Squadron's engine shop at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. A traditional member of the squadron, he generally works with the squadron one weekend per month and for two weeks of annual training every year. As a civilian, Harris works in an oil change shop and is also a student through Penn Foster University, working on certification as an ASE auto mechanic.

"I've just always liked working with my hands," he said. "So, being a mechanic just came natural."

During their June training weekend, Airmen in the 127th MXS engine shop spent time going over a number of annual refresher training requirements for their duties as jet engine mechanics.

"Its attention to detail, that's the most important thing," said Master Sgt. Dean Daggett, a 29-year veteran of the engine shop, who led a short class on the proper inspection methods and parameters for the engine's inlet and exhaust components.

"Stone damage, a bird strike. You're looking for nicks and dents," he said as several Airmen gathered round an engine and listened as he ran through a laundry list of tolerance levels for various components of the engine.

For Senior Airman Jody Thivierge, working with his fellow Airmen on the A-10's engine gives him a sense of satisfaction.

"You come out and your feel like you accomplish something," Thivierge said of his Air National Guard weekend duty. "It's far more than just the pay, it's what you learn and what you get to do that makes getting up early on the weekends worth it."

In his civilian job, Thivierge works as a truck driver, but is currently enrolled as a full-time student at the Michigan Institute of Aviation & Technology, studying to be federally certified as an airframes and powerplant specialist. Thivierge said his Air Force training greatly assisted with his studies and work toward that certification.

"Knowledge is the key," he said. "Working on systems like these engines, you have to constantly review and study to stay up on everything."

Comprised of approximately 1,600 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operations Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which is also home to units of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Border Patrol and Customs and Border Protection.