Cleaning Day in the Armaments Bay

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
In the hangar, past the bomb racks and then around the corner.

This is where the armament troops work at Selfridge. And today is cleaning day. But in the Air Force, that means more than just grabbing a broom and sweeping up.

With brushes, solvent, ratchet sets and technical orders, today is the day the MAU-40 Bomb Ejector Racks are being cleaned.

"This is an 18-month inspection," explained Technical Sgt. Lucky Foate, a 19-year veteran of the Air National Guard. "Once every 18 months, we bring this in to the back shop, tear them down, give them a thorough inspection of every piece and every part, clean them up and return them to service."

The MAU-40 is used on the A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft. The rack holds the bombs carried by the A-10, an air-to-ground attack aircraft that has been used extensively by the Air Force in Afghanistan in recent years. These particular MAU-40s are maintained by the 127th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, which is part of the Michigan Air National Guard. The Michigan Guard's A-10 pilots and maintainers returned home in January after a four-month deployment to Afghanistan. The MAU-40 is just one of hundreds of parts that makes the A-10 a fearsome opponent on the battlefield.

Foate has worked on several different aspects of aircraft munitions over the years. He started off working on the armament systems on F-16 Fighting Falcons for the Michigan Air National Guard in the early 1990s. In the mid-2000s, he moved to Florida and transferred to the Florida Air National Guard. About a year ago, he returned to Michigan and resumed his service with the 127th at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. Over the years, he's worked as a weapons loader, on communications systems and now he's back in the back shop again, maintaining armament systems.

"You know, I enjoy it. To be honest, I've enjoyed most everything I've done in the Guard," said Foate, who works as an electrician in his civilian job.

On the other side of the workshop, SSgt. Jason Turner and Senior Airman Mike Vogel are cleaning an MAU-50. It looks somewhat similar to the -40 and both are used to hang munitions on the A-10. The MAU-50 light duty ejector rack used for a variety of different weapon and defensive systems. Turner and Vogel are giving the -50s their scheduled cleaning and inspection as well.

The two men came to the Guard through different paths. Turner served on active duty in the Air Force, serving in England for a time. After he was discharged from the Air Force, he went 16 years with no military affiliation until he bumped into an Air Force recruiter in a Home Depot store. He's now been in the Guard for six years. Vogel worked in vehicle maintenance with the Michigan Army National Guard for four years. During a deployment to Kuwait, he worked with a team that added additional armor to military vehicles. After returning home to Michigan, he was playing softball in a recreation league and some people on the other team recruited him into the Air National Guard. That was about 5 years ago.

"And the rest is history," Vogel said. "Basically, I just moved to the other side of the base."

Selfridge is home to units from all branches of military service.

The three Airmen are all traditional members of the Air National Guard, serving generally one weekend per month, two weeks of duty in the summer and then standing ready for calls to deployment.

"It has been a pretty good ride for me," Foate said. "I like what I do when I come out here and put in my weekend."