JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas –
"This is a competition; don't miss anything," Col. Jeffrey T. Pennington, 433rd Airlift Wing commander, told maintainers in a huddle-like briefing before starting the Foreign Object Damage and Dropped Object Prevention Rodeo Nov. 16.
Maintainers from the 433rd Airlift Wing Maintenance Squadrons were selected to participate on 15 five-man teams to search for and annotate discrepancies on three C-5A Galaxy aircraft. Teams that placed first, second and third were recognized at an awards ceremony Nov. 17.
The rodeo was part of a three-day stand down to prepare for a follow-up inspection in February 2014.
"The goal is to instill pride. This rodeo brings to their attention all of the different things that need to be looked at every day," said Col. Charles Combs, 433rd Maintenance Group commander.
"This is practical, and it reinforces the points more than sitting in a classroom," he said.
Since teams were composed of Airmen from different units, communication was very important. "We communicated very well. I picked up a few tips from their systems, said Tech. Sgt. Arthur Flores, 433rd AMXS. This was fun and needs to be done quarterly to get everyone involved. It was a team effort. It brings everybody together."
Like at any western rodeo, there was a barbecue. Squadron leadership cooked burgers and hot dogs over a mesquite fire in the fuel cell after the Rodeo.
The participants had the chance to eat at picnic tables with their new friends and coworkers, a rare treat on a unit training assembly weekend.
"This is great for morale. It gives us a chance to talk outside of a maintenance atmosphere," said Chief Master Sgt. Joseph Campbell from the 433rd AMXS.
"This is a healthy competition. You have 15 teams of Airmen, and everybody wants to be the best," he said.
On Sunday, the last day of the stand down, there was a wing-wide FOD walk with more than 300 participants.
While it may seem like a meaningless stroll on a humid morning on the flight line, FOD walks are an important part of the mission to provide combat ready forces.
"FOD management is everyone's responsibility," Combs said. "The smallest piece of FOD can cause damage to equipment, cause personal injury, or worse, cause an aircraft to crash."
A five-cent washer can lodge itself into the throttle linkage and bring a jet down. That's why we conduct weekly FOD walks," the colonel said.
"Some people say it's a huge waste of time and money to do these sweeps, but if it will save a million dollar engine, then it's worth it," Combs said.
After the walk, Pennington spoke with the maintainers about the future of the wing. At the conclusion of his remarks, Col. Aaron Vangelisti, the wing's vice commander and FOD program manager was on hand to present the awards for the FOD and DOP Rodeo.
"FOD and DOP are important. It's important that every single one of you pay attention to every single detail and piece of work you do on that aircraft," he said.
"I need you to give your very best every time you go out there," Pennington said encouragingly at the end of the rodeo. "I'm proud of you and I am proud of your leadership."