86th MUNS Airmen help keep Air Force in the fight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joshua Magbanua
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Guns without ammunition are useless to the warfighter, and it is the same for fighter aircraft, bombers and attack helicopters.

This is why the Airmen of the 86th Munitions Squadron strive for excellence at what they do: making sure the Air Force’s aircraft and Airmen have the firepower they need to win the fight.

“We have a saying: without ammo, the fighters are just corvettes in the sky,” said Master Sgt. James Tschoepe, 86th MUNS NCO in charge of tactical aircrew rapid response packages. “They can fly around and expend jet fuel all they want, but without the weapons they need, they cannot accomplish their mission.”

Airmen from the unit are responsible for inspecting munitions to ensure their serviceability, sorting munitions according their type, and shipping them to their appropriate destinations.

The 86th MUNS processes munitions for U.S. Air Forces in Europe and NATO allies. The kind of munitions the Airmen deal with range from small arms ammunition to large ordnance such as artillery.

“We have it all here,” Tschoepe said. “We’re the hub for all the munitions movements for USAFE and Africa. We don’t have fighter aircraft here, but we do have the air mobility wing. We pre-stage our munitions here so we can forward them to the warfighter down range.”

Working with munitions on a daily basis is hazardous, and requires diligent practice of risk management and attention to detail. This is why the 86th MUNS has set measures in place to ensure the safety of the Airmen who work there, Tschoepe said.

“It's very safe,” Tschoepe said. “Most of the hazards we face are industrial. We employ proper personal protective equipment, such as hand protection, gloves and goggles.”

Despite the potential hazards, Senior Airman Jose Berrios, 86th MUNS munitions systems technician said he enjoys his job, feeling that he and his colleagues make a valuable contribution to the Air Force’s mission.

“We are the nation’s defense," Berrios said. "It makes me feel better that I’m providing security to my country. Not a lot of people get to do this."

Tschoepe takes pride in his Airmen, many of whom are new to the Air Force. The 86th MUNS has just undergone a local in-house exercise, which aimed to enhance the squadron’s mission readiness. The Airmen learned quickly and performed well, he said.

“We have a good group of Airmen here; they’re learning a lot,” Tschoepe said. “We’ve received eight or nine Airmen straight from tech school in the past two or three months. This is their first exercise and they’re doing a great job.”

Whether it’s ammunition for security forces Airmen to guard their installation or munitions for aircraft to succeed with their mission downrange, it’s made possible by the Airmen of the 86th MUNS.