459th Aircrew Flight Equipment shop wins top AFRC award

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cierra Presentado
  • 459ARW/PA

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. – The 459th Operations Group’s Aircrew Flight Equipment shop recently won Air Force Reserve Command’s Aircrew Flight Equipment Small Program of the year for FY20.

The AFE team was recognized by wing and headquarters leadership for its outstanding hard work and dedication to accomplishing the mission.

At the top of the year when COVID-19 hit, the AFE team crafted more than 600 face masks for members of the wing and made specialty masks for members of the 459th Operations Group.

“When the pandemic hit, most were ordered to stay home and telework, however, we know that the mission must continue, so my team came in and made masks for those frontline workers who were required to still come to work as part of mission readiness,” said Senior Master Sgt. Megan Kuszewski, 459th  AFE Superintendent. “We had to make sure the pilots, maintainers, and aeromedical evacuation folks stayed safe.”

In addition to crafting masks, the team also created aircraft sanitizer kits for crew members designed to minimize aircrew exposure. As a result of the sanitizer kits, aircrews were able to support two Major Command directed COVID-19 missions.

The accomplishments don’t stop there. Despite being a small program, the team supported North Atlantic Treaty Organizations and European Command exercises by ensuring six aircraft and crewmembers were provided with inspected flight equipment ensuring the safety of aircrew members in the event of an in-flight emergency.

“You would assume that the mission would be affected because of the pandemic,” Kuszewski said. “My Airmen came in when they had the option to work from home, their dedication to this shop is astonishing. We really didn’t miss a beat.”

While many units paused training due to COVID-19, the AFE team worked within the COVID restrictions that were in place and successfully got all of the shop member’s skill levels upgraded, and three members even completed their professional military education requirements.

“The Airmen and NCO’s came up with a program that would allow everyone to continue training and get their upgrade training accomplished, all while under COVID restrictions,” Kuszewski said. “I am so proud of them, we accomplished so much this year. Having all my Airmen upgraded despite this pandemic was the icing on the cake for us.”

Throughout the entire fiscal year, the team proved themselves to be mission ready and supported the wing behind the scenes. Their competence and skill levels were put to the test when they were asked to train their active duty counterparts on Aircrew Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear training.

We got the opportunity to train active duty on our job,” Kuszewski said. “I love that the team got the chance to see that Reservists know just as much as their active duty counter parts, and are just as competent and knowledgeable. It was a real morale booster for us and I hope we get the chance to do it again

In conjunction with working hard and meeting mission requirements, the team also found time to give back to the community and come together to boost morale.

“The AFE team is truly selfless,” Kuszewski said. “We work hard and still come together to have fun. Whether it’s raising money, supporting the wing Honor Guard, or having family events, we always find time to take a step back and bond. I think that is really important.”

The work that went into this award isn’t going unnoticed. The team’s accomplishment was recognized by leadership here and at AFRC level.

“In just a matter of several short years, SMSgt Kuszewski and AFE have completely revamped and reenergized this section and squadron,” said Lt. Col. Otis Wilson, 459th Operations Support Squadron commander. “They epitomize the lean-forward attitude and esprit de corps necessary to complete this mission. Resilience and perseverance are key attributes. This is a proud moment for the Operations Support Squadron, Operations Group and 459 Air Refueling Wing. Bravo AFE!”