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Ready, set….load

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Integrated teams from the 509th and 131st Bomb Wings participated in the bomb build and load portion of Air Force Global Strike Command Global Strike Challenge here Aug. 11 and 12.

The conventional load competition entails demonstrating loading procedures in accordance with technical orders (TO) in a timely manner.

"We basically merge technical data and compliance needs to figure out how fast we can accomplish these tasks," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher Wark, 509th Munitions Squadron assistant shop chief of conventional maintenance. "It's a massive ordeal to undertake and consolidate down to an hour and fifty minutes. This is a unique opportunity for the junior Airmen who won't get to experience this unless they deploy and even then, they won't load this fast."

In addition, Wark considers this to be a once in a career lifetime opportunity for Airmen to operate under these conditions.

Time speed varies upon equipment malfunction. Conventional load crews use 300 pieces, consisting of a wide range of components, to consolidate this operation.

"Everything we do in accordance with the TO's," said Wark. "The Air Force's number one concern is safety. We want to ensure everyone is safe while operating step by step, piece by piece with the technical data. If even the smallest component is out of place, it can put someone's life in harm's way or cause malfunction. Attention to detail is everything and more when we are adhering to procedures."

Preparation for the competition is a lengthy, enduring process.

"There was a lot of hard work that went into this competition," said Staff Sgt. Ryan Marler, 131st MUNS journeyman. "We learned the procedure of building bombs and studied for tests eight to nine hours a day, a month prior to the competition."

The team accredits their leadership for their hard work in this competition.

"The leadership led and the team built," said "Airman 1st Class Tyler McLelland, 509th MUNS conventional maintenance journeyman. "The leadership ensured we were prepared before the challenge and we executed as expected."

The leadership reciprocates their gratitude for their subordinate's performance.

"This is my second year doing this," Wark said. "I was once in their shoes as an Airman who competed, and to see these Airmen mastering their normal duties within 30 days of this time restricted result is amazing. We went from our first bomb build in six hours down to an hour and twenty minutes which is outstanding."

Wark added that he had nothing to do with the outcome of the competition. He provided his crew with the tools and they performed.

Whiteman leadership, to include Brig. Gen. Paul Tibbets VI, 509th Bomb Wing commander, will be representing the load crew in attending the score postings at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Oct. 20 and 21. The crew is thrilled to take home the title as Global Strike Conventional Load Crew of the Year.

"We worked hard, we shed our sweat, blood and tears," said McLelland. "As far as I'm concerned, we've already won; we are the best hands down!"