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A Crew Chief’s First Deployment Rite of Passage

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alejandro Armendariz (center), 145th Maintenance Squadron, clips together his dog tags while waiting in line during a deployment processing line held at the held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Feb. 5, 2017. Armendariz is a crew chief and is deploying for the first time to maintain C-130 Hercules aircraft in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel to provide tactical airlift in the region.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alejandro Armendariz (center), 145th Maintenance Squadron, clips together his dog tags while waiting in line during a deployment processing line held at the held at the North Carolina Air National Guard Base, Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Feb. 5, 2017. Armendariz is a crew chief and is deploying for the first time to maintain C-130 Hercules aircraft in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel to provide tactical airlift in the region.

02/05/2017 -- 02/04/2017 – CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A deployment is a rite of passage for Airmen and Staff Sgt. Alexandro Armendariz of the North Carolina Air National Guard is no exception.

“I’m nervous, really nervous. This is my first really big trip. The other trips pale in comparison to this deployment. I’ve been mentally and physically preparing myself and my family,” said Armendariz.

Armendariz is a crew chief on the C-130 Hercules aircraft of the 145th Airlift Wing. He’s been in the NC Air National Guard for 10 years, and on this deployment he’ll be performing maintenance tasks like pre-flight inspections, aircraft configuration, fueling, repairing struts, serving the aircraft with liquid oxygen and more.

“The group that’s deploying has been preparing by completing job requirements and also auxiliary deployment training, which takes quite a bit of time,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Mueller, 145th Maintenance Squadron aircraft inspection dock superintendent, who’s deployed four times with the unit. “We’ve been preparing these airmen for three months, and planning for almost a year.”

Armendariz is an asset to his team, and it hasn’t been overlooked, “I’ve noticed over the last two years since being his supervisor, you don’t have to ask Sgt. Armendariz to do anything, he just does it on his own. He’s a tremendous asset,” said Mueller.
In addition to Armendariz duties as crew chief, he’ll be a Unit Public Affairs Representative to follow not only his journey, but the journey of his peers.
“I’m excited to take pictures as a unit public affairs representative on this deployment and share our perspective with other people. Through a camera lens you can do a lot. We usually don’t get to see images of our own deployment. It’s cool especially since it’s the last C-130 deployment,” said Armendariz.

Although this is Armendariz’s first deployment, this is the last C-130 Hercules deployment with the 145th Airlift Wing due to the unit’s upcoming transition to the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

“On the home front, for the loved ones left behind, our Guard family will, as always, rise to the occasion. There are multiple resources available to our families. I feel confident our deploying member’s families will be taken care of,” said Chief Master Sgt. Mitchell Lefler, 145th Maintenance Squadron component maintenance flight superintendent, who will be the senior enlisted member on this deployment.

“I’m filled with excitement, hope, fear, and pride. Being my first deployment, I have an opportunity to complete something I have never done in my career just yet. Excitement, for the things I will see, and haven't seen. Hope, that I will fulfill my duty in every single way that I can. Fear, that I will be leaving my family while I will be on the other side of the world. Pride, that I will be able to do work that will affect others. Pride, that I will be representing my shop, unit, family, and country with the work that we will do,” said Armendariz.

Armendariz lives in Charlotte, N.C. with his wife of 12 years, Joanna, and children. Prior to leaving, Armendariz has prepared his wife and children for the responsibilities they’ll have to take on day to day. His wife Joanna said, “I’m excited for him to shine, but concerned about the new responsibilities.”

The N.C. Air National Guard continues to support global missions as their transition from the C-130 Hercules to C-17 Globemaster III aircraft progresses which truly showcases the unit’s effectiveness and versatility.