Reservists make history at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
By Sarah Olaciregui, National Museum of the U.S. Air Force
/ Published November 02, 2009
DAYTON, Ohio -- It's not every day that Air Force Reservists make history. Not the kind of history where you break records or are the first or last to do something, but these reservists are making history with their hands, one rivet, nail or screw at a time, by helping restore historic aircraft into pristine condition during a two week visit to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force's restoration hangars.
Led by Senior Master Sgt. Brad Kuhn, a group of seven Air Force Reserve members from the 315th Maintenance Squadron at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., came to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in October to assist the museum's Restoration Division on a variety of projects.
Kuhn's squadron typically works on aircraft maintenance of C-17 Globemaster IIIs back at their home base, but when they arrived at the museum, they knew they were here to do whatever needed to be done.
"We removed flight control surfaces from an F-84, removed the wings on a MiG-23, de-skinned an O-46 and manufactured a holding fixture for a wing of the famous World War II-era aircraft, the B-17F Memphis Belle," he explained.
The annual trips began after Kuhn met the museum's chief of restoration, Roger Deere, at an air park management course. He asked him about coming to work on some projects. The logistics were worked out and Kuhn has been bringing groups of six to eight reservists at least once a year for the past five years to help restore these priceless artifacts.
And the museum's restoration specialists appreciate the extra hands.
"If no new projects were added to the queue, we still have a back log of nearly 30 years of restoration work," said Deere. "The reservists help out with a variety of things and allow the restoration specialists to concentrate on other important areas."
Tech. Sgt. Vernell Richardson, a C-17 crew chief, is on his first trip to the museum.
"Working here made me feel good about being able to contribute," he said. "The insight toward a variety of career fields is great and I know my skills have increased. Doing this work really brings it all together for me."
Tech. Sgt. Sherri St. John usually works in avionics as a civilian employee and then puts on a uniform for the same job as a reservist. This is also her first working trip to the museum.
"Coming here is an opportunity to do something different," she said. "I haven't got to crawl around in a plane in a long time. Not a lot of people can say they've had a hand at restoring an old aircraft."
Kuhn said working at the museum provides his troops an experience they wouldn't get anywhere else, and there is an advantage of bringing people from a variety of backgrounds and career fields to help out.
"They're not afraid to think outside the box and do anything that needs to be done."
The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton, Ohio. It is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day). Admission and parking are free.
NOTE TO PUBLIC: For more information, please contact the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at (937) 255-3286.
NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information about the museum, please contact Sarah Olaciregui at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-1376.