131BW Crew Chief of the Year earns B-2 flight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kelly Ferguson
  • 131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs Office
A crew chief with the 131st Bomb Wing has been selected as the wing’s 2021 Crew Chief of the Year and awarded with an incentive flight in a B-2 Spirit bomber Jan. 9, 2022, here.

Master Sgt. Joshua Upton, crew chief with the 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, earned the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Thomas N. Barnes Award after distinguishing himself as an essential leader in the wing’s ongoing mission of delivering B-2 global strike capabilities and strategic deterrence.

“I got a good, solid year of hard work and high performance,” Upton said. “I have great supervisors who actually care about and take notice of the work I do. I’ve also got great coworkers and we do well as a team. If it wasn’t for having a good team and good people with me I wouldn’t have won the award.”

Maintenance supervision commended Upton’s hard work and high performance both at home station and while deployed. Upton’s leadership as an aircraft dedicated crew chief led to the execution of 18 sorties and 145.9 flying hours in support of 16 higher headquarters missions.

Senior Master Sgt. Randy Reynolds, Airframe and Powerplant section supervisor 131st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, explained that Upton’s efforts were crucial in accomplishing the first B-2 flying integration with F-35 Lightning II aircraft from the United Kingdom, Norway, and the Netherlands. Reynolds added that Upton’s oversight of maintenance actions and refueling, along with coordination among various mechanical and specialist shops, enhanced cooperation between allied forces.

Having obtained multiple certifier roles during his career, Upton is responsible for training many Guard and active duty service members.

“I really don’t notice a difference between the Guard and active duty Airmen,” said Upton. “We’re all trying to accomplish the same job so I try to integrate everyone together.”

Aiming for success and with his team to support him, Upton earned the title of Crew Chief of the Year and was awarded with a ride in a B-2, and Spirit Number 772, meaning he is the 772nd person to fly in the airframe.

During his incentive flight, Upton was treated to a bird’s-eye view of his hometown.

“It was pretty clear while we were flying,” Upton recalled. “Even though we were 20 some thousand feet up I could still see my hometown when we flew over. It was an awesome experience and it was a really great feeling when we returned to base and my wife and family were there to see the results of my hard work.”

Upton remarked upon the skill of his pilot and how smooth the flight was from inside the bomber. He described the experience as a “pinch me” type of moment.

“Seeing the mechanical beast that I work on with all of its systems running and working together gave me a better respect for what I do,” Upton said. “It was really rejuvenating to get to see my work pay off.”

Upton’s advice for maintainers seeking to succeed and earn their own B-2 Incentive flight is to study hard and put in the work.

“Work hard, grind every day and make sure you know your job,” Upton said. “Because that incentive flight is really something special.”