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Safety is key for 23rd MUNS

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Rachel Perkinson
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs

 Most people would think building 240 rockets by hand would take forever to complete, but for the 23rd Munitions Squadron, it’s just another day.

The tedious repetition and attention to detail is crucial for the hardworking Airmen who ensure each asset is in perfect shape before it is ready to be loaded onto an aircraft.

With mounds of boxes containing missile parts and countless bullets to keep ready for the Air Force’s mission, MUNS Airmen handle, assemble, store and transport munitions to ensure the safety of the Airmen at Moody AFB.

The first step in the process is simply understanding how to handle munitions correctly.

The Airmen who handle and assemble munitions have to maintain rigid safety precautions. Without these precautions in place, the detonation of ammunition can cause catastrophic damage.

“It’s important that Airmen assembling assets are grounded to their environment,” said Capt. Jose Rodriguez-Perez, 23rd MUNS munitions operations officer. “Airmen have to make sure they don’t wear 100% polyester, because of how much electricity that produces and they wear a wrist wrap that is connected to the bench they are working on, so when they move around, they stay connected and grounded to the equipment.”

There are many, many other processes in place to maintain strict compliance with guidelines, because MUNS Airmen live in a fast-paced environment. They move from task to task in what an untrained eye would see as chaos, because of the Air Force’s high demand for munitions used in training.

“It’s really repetitive working on ammunition sometimes and it’s tedious work,” said Senior Airman Ivan Tolbert, 23rd MUNS conventional munitions crew chief. “But ensuring that we are being safe while handling assets is critical, because you could really hurt yourself or those around you if you’re not careful.”

Once the mounds of boxes are emptied and the hundreds of protective sleeves from missile parts are picked up, it’s time to store the ammunition.

Munitions must be stored properly to ensure that detonations do not occur - whether that be above or below ground.

“We have protocols in place that state the amount of storage a building can hold or how many you can stack on top of each other, if they can be stacked at all, and various detailed measures to check while storing ammunition,” Rodriguez-Perez said. “A major factor that comes to storing ammunition is ensuring that if a round were to detonate in one storage location, it would be far enough away from other storage locations to not set them off, too.”

It's like a Tetris game, but with bullets, rockets and bombs – assorting each piece of ammunition perfectly in place to keep the integrity of the munitions in good order and the base safe.

“It can seem like common sense,” Tolbert expressed. “You just have to make sure you’re doing everything safely. There are stacking limits, certain angles you’re supposed to store things and making sure that if something doesn’t seem right, that you ask others and they can demonstrate how to do it properly.”

Not only is storing munition the correct way important, but so is transporting the munitions from the work shop to the flight line.

It’s not a hap-hazard situation of throwing munition on a truck bed and hauling it down the road – it’s the proper securing and tightening of munitions to a specific trailer that keeps the integrity of the bomb intact and any mishaps far and few between.

That’s were technical orders play a role as well. Airmen must follow the ‘know-it-all-book’ of minute details that is used to follow protocols.

“Strapping down munitions is quite simple and usage of the technical orders is not only required, but it allows for a stable and even load,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Timas 23rd MUNS munitions line delivery supervisor. “Tie down straps that are tight, signify a secure load, as long as it’s within the tie down strap’s weight limitations.”

Local policy will also be written by munitions supervision for loads considered pertinent to a specific unit or base’s mission, Timas continued.

“Along with technical orders and local policy tie-down procedures, speed limits for handling equipment are enforced,” Timas said. “Also, munitions-handling-equipment trailers are built with self-actuated brakes in order to prevent collision and runaway trailers.”

Though chasing down a runaway trailer seems like a comical event, it’s intuitive thinking that cultivated a piece of equipment like a self-actuated break trailer to be a part of transporting munitions.

That mindset is continued throughout all the processes of preparing munitions for Moody. Whether the MUNS Airmen are building, storing or transporting ammunition, it’s the collective effort put into each rocket, bullet and missile that keeps themselves and their peers safe from disaster.

The Airmen in 23rd MUNS are great at what they do and always take safety protocols seriously, Rodriguez-Perez added. They’re also really investing their creativity to the squadron to set a great image – putting the right foot forward.

“Ammo is fun every day,” Tolbert said. “You never know what to expect on the scene all the time – it can be surprising. You’re working with rockets today, bombs tomorrow and the bullets after that. I never imagined doing something like this job and its rewarding knowing the work I put in gets loaded onto an aircraft and sent out to fight for our country.”