Load crew member's career comes full circle
By Senior Airman Danielle Quilla, 131st/509th Public Affairs
/ Published July 15, 2016
WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Many times senior non commissioned officers do not have the chance to go back and get their hands dirty, but one master sergeant had the opportunity to see his career come full circle.
"I started my career off loading and I wanted to end my career loading," said Master Sgt. Allen Anderson, an aircraft armament systems mechanic assigned to the 131st Bomb Wing's Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
From June 10 to 30, 2016, Anderson attended the initial certification training to become a "four man", which is the bomber load crew member position responsible for operating the bomb lift truck to transport the munitions to and from an aircraft.
Normally the training is for first term Airmen, but an opening in the course gave the 58-year-old an opportunity to again do what he loves before retiring in 2018.
Anderson began his loading career when he joined the Air National Guard on July 24, 1977.
"Fresh out of high school I decided I wanted to do something with my life," Anderson said.
After taking the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB), Anderson learned he was qualified for the job and the Guardsmen at Otis Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, showed him what he would be doing on the flightline.
One month later on Aug. 24, 1977, Anderson left for Basic Military Training and attended technical school at Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado.
Upon completing his training, he returned to Otis to work with a three-member fighter load crew on Aim-4 Falcon missiles. Eventually, he worked his way up from a "two man" to a Load Standardization Crew (LSC) "one man," the leader of the load crew.
In 1990, his civilian position transferred him to St. Louis, where he joined the Missouri Air National Guard. Anderson spent 17 years loading until his entire unit was moved to Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, on Oct. 15, 2007, as part of the total force integration, where they now partner with the 509th Bomb Wing and work on the B-2 Stealth bomber.
Once the unit was fully established at Whiteman in 2008, Anderson was assigned to the "back shop" where he worked on equipment, 24-month inspections and facilitated moving equipment.
It had been eight years since he had the chance to load so Anderson jumped at the opportunity to attend the initial certification training to become a "four man."
"During his certification, Master Sgt. Anderson worked harder and showed more dedication to learn than most of his counterparts that are a third of his age," said Master Sgt. Andrew Chocha, LSC team chief assigned to the 509th Maintenance Group.
With retirement two years away, Anderson said he was grateful for the opportunity to have his career come full circle.
"I have been in the back shop for a while so, this is a breath of fresh air for me to finish out my career loading," Anderson said. "The Airmen are awesome to load with, and it brings back great memories of my first load crew."