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10th Air Force holds first-ever weapons loading competition

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. - Chief Master Sgt. Jerome Lewis, 10th Air Force Material Management Superintendent, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, inspects the load crew team members individually during the 10th Air Force Load Competition Championship at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., Feb. 19. The load crews are judged in four categories with the highest combined score determining the overall winner. The competition is graded based on an overall score in four different areas: dress and personal appearance, consolidated tool kit inspection, general knowledge test, and a competitive munitions load. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jaimi L. Upthegrove)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. - Chief Master Sgt. Jerome Lewis, 10th Air Force Material Management Superintendent, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, inspects the load crew team members individually during the 10th Air Force Load Competition Championship at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., Feb. 19. The load crews are judged in four categories with the highest combined score determining the overall winner. The competition is graded based on an overall score in four different areas: dress and personal appearance, consolidated tool kit inspection, general knowledge test, and a competitive munitions load. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jaimi L. Upthegrove)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. - Staff Sgt. Michael Kierszman, Staff Sgt. Adrian Perez-Inoa, and Senior Airman Esteban Reyes, weapons load crew members from the 482nd Fighter Wing here, fist-bump as they get ready to begin the munitions load portion of the 10th Air Force Load Competition Championship at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, Feb. 19. Though the team did not win the championship, they represented the 482 FW well said Tech. Sgt. Branden Paddock, load standardization crew member for the 482nd. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jaimi L. Upthegrove)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. - Staff Sgt. Michael Kierszman, Staff Sgt. Adrian Perez-Inoa, and Senior Airman Esteban Reyes, weapons load crew members from the 482nd Fighter Wing here, fist-bump as they get ready to begin the munitions load portion of the 10th Air Force Load Competition Championship at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, Feb. 19. Though the team did not win the championship, they represented the 482 FW well said Tech. Sgt. Branden Paddock, load standardization crew member for the 482nd. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jaimi L. Upthegrove)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. - Staff Sgt. Michael Kierszman, weapons load crew member from the 482nd Fighter Wing, Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., guides a bomb into place before securing it during the 10th Air Force Load Competition Championship here Feb. 19. Weapons loaders work in teams of three and are evaluated on a monthly basis to ensure readiness and proficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jaimi L. Upthegrove)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. - Staff Sgt. Michael Kierszman, weapons load crew member from the 482nd Fighter Wing, Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., guides a bomb into place before securing it during the 10th Air Force Load Competition Championship here Feb. 19. Weapons loaders work in teams of three and are evaluated on a monthly basis to ensure readiness and proficiency. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jaimi L. Upthegrove)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. - Tech. Sgt. Michael Young, Tech. Sgt. Bryan Wicker, and Senior Airman Jonathan Thursted, weapons load crew members from the 419th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah pose for a group photo before winning the 10th Air Force Load Competition Championship at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., Feb. 19. The competition is graded based on an overall score in four different areas: dress and personal appearance, consolidated tool kit inspection, general knowledge test, and a competitive munitions load. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Roman)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. - Tech. Sgt. Michael Young, Tech. Sgt. Bryan Wicker, and Senior Airman Jonathan Thursted, weapons load crew members from the 419th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah pose for a group photo before winning the 10th Air Force Load Competition Championship at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., Feb. 19. The competition is graded based on an overall score in four different areas: dress and personal appearance, consolidated tool kit inspection, general knowledge test, and a competitive munitions load. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Roman)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. - Tech. Sgt. Bryan Wicker, weapons load crew member from the 419th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, directs his teammate who’s driving the jammer holding the bomb so that it can be aligned correctly during the 10th Air Force Load Competition Championship at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., Feb. 19. Once the bomb is lined up and in place, Wicker secures it in place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Roman)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. - Tech. Sgt. Bryan Wicker, weapons load crew member from the 419th Fighter Wing, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, directs his teammate who’s driving the jammer holding the bomb so that it can be aligned correctly during the 10th Air Force Load Competition Championship at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla., Feb. 19. Once the bomb is lined up and in place, Wicker secures it in place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jeremy Roman)

HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- For the first time ever, 10th Air Force held an F-16 weapons loading competition Feb. 18-19 at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla.

The winning teams from the 301st Fighter Wing, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, 419th FW, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, and the 482nd Fighter Wing here came together to compete in this championship event. The teams brought together traditional reservists, active duty, and air reserve technicians.

"We had several total force integration teams participating. It shows that regardless of what status you're in, job knowledge is what counts," said Lt. Col. Leo Kamphaus, 10 AF chief aircraft maintenance branch, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas. "These individuals load quickly, accurately, and safely."

The load crews are judged in four categories with the highest combined score determining the overall winner. The four areas evaluated were dress and personal appearance, a general knowledge test, and the competitive munitions load itself.

"All three crews represented their units proudly and professionally," Tech. Sgt. Branden Paddock, 495th Fighter Group, Detachment 93 here, lead standardization crew member. "They are the best of the best at what they do and they certainly showed it during the competition."

The history of weapons loading competitions in the Air Force dates back before the Korean War. Senior Master Sgt. Derrick Chesley, 10 AF armament superintendent, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, said speed is definitely a factor, though loading munitions correctly is extremely important which is why safety and reliability errors play a large role in the overall scoring.

"If munitions are not loaded correctly, they may not hit the intended target," said Chesley. "When you're aiming at a specific target, the munitions must be loaded correctly to reduce collateral damage and to provide the intended result."

Chesley also said these competitions where a good way for the teams to sharpen their skills and be recognized for their dedication to excellence at their craft.

All three 10th AF units are fully combat-ready units capable of providing F-16C multi-purpose fighter aircraft, along with mission ready pilots and support personnel, for short-notice worldwide deployment. These competitions are one way that Airmen perfect their skills to be able to achieve their mission in a deployed location.

The Load Crew of the Year was awarded to Tech. Sgt. Bryan Wicker, Tech. Sgt. Michael Young, and Senior Airman Jonathan Thorsted, weapons load crew members from the 419 FW. The Highest Test Score was awarded to Wicker, and the Sharpest Uniform Award went to Thorsted.

"These load competitions showcase the dedication and professionalism required of weapons troops Air Force-wide in the unique task of handling of live munitions," said Paddock. "Their ability to consistently execute their job under pressure keeps our country safe and our enemies fearful."