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442 MXG races to success

A man inspects a cap on a bomb.

A weapons loader with the 442d Maintenance Group inspects a practice bomb before loading it onto an A-10 during the weapons loading competition Sept. 11, 2021, on Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. The timed competition involved loading four different types of munitions onto the aircraft while observing all applicable safety rules. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alex Chase)

Five people in yellow shirts inspect a trailer with four bombs on it.

The yellow team of ammo troops from the 442d Maintenance Squadron inspect the bombs they built after loading them onto a trailer to be delivered to waiting aircraft Sept. 11, 2021, on Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Yellow team, headed by Master Sgt. Steven O'Connor, won the building portion of the weapons building and loading competition.


The 442d Maintenance Group held a friendly weapons building and loading competition September 11, 2021, at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. Four teams of ammo troops each built a GBU-12 laser-guided bomb, MK-82 unguided bomb, and a CATM-9 training missile, then delivered them to one of four waiting teams of weapons loaders, who loaded the munitions onto an A-10 Thunderbolt II.

The building portion of the competition pitted teams of six ammo troops against each other. In the end, yellow team took home the trophy. The team consisted of team lead Master Sgt. Steven O’Connor and Tech. Sgt. Casey Jernigan – both Air Reserve Technicians – Staff Sgt. Raeshaun Stephens and Senior Airman Matthew Leach – active-duty members with the 358th Fighter Squadron – and traditional reservists Staff Sgts. Marcus Williams and Wayne Coots.

“There were a few keys to us winning, besides just being the best there is,” O’connor said. “Excellent training and being able to get the members into their strength areas of the build.” He also lauded his team for maintaining an even keel, striving for efficiency over speed, and great communication.

Family and community members watched the competition from bleachers set up next to Hangar 91.

“I think it is extremely important to hold these types of events because it allows us to showcase our skills in front of friends and family as well as boosting morale in the shop,” said Senior Airman Noah Keys, an Aircraft Armament Technician with the 442 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

Keys – along with Senior Airman Zachary White and weapons team chief Tech. Sgt. Daniel Blair – took first place in the load competition.

“Every team member has certain responsibilities,” said Blair. “You need to have trust in each other to execute the game plan, and that’s what we did.”

Audience members and fellow Airmen cheered as the teams came together to accomplish the task while being timed and evaluated. AMXS leadership announced the winners during the wing’s Family Day later that day.

“Friendly competitions are fun and it is good for morale,” said White. “We take pride in what we do.”

Although this is the first load competition held within the shop, MXG leaders plan to make this morale-boosting exercise a yearly event, as it helps bring Airmen and the community together through teamwork and collaboration.

“Teamwork in this career field is extremely important, whether it be a load competition or doing real-world missions, we cannot do our job without teamwork,” said Keys. “Being able to work well with each other is vital in completing our job and the mission.”