61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit Assigns First F-35 Dedicated Crew Chiefs

Luke Air Force Base, Arizona // January 30, 2015

Even though being a crew chief may not seem like the most rewarding, their role is crucial in today's Air Force.

Crew chiefs have played an invaluable part through the advancement of aviation over the past 100 years. They are technically proficient in most, if not all, aspects of aircraft maintenance and work with specialized maintainers to keep aircraft flying and mission capable. Without crew chiefs, the mission to train the world's greatest fighter pilots would not happen.

Members of the 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit dedicated crew chiefs prepare to recite the Mechanic’s Creed during the recognition ceremony Jan. 23 in Hanger 431 at Luke Air Force Base. 

At Luke, the 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit (AMU) honored 17 dedicated crew chiefs during a recognition ceremony Jan. 16 in Hanger 431. The ceremony marked a milestone that coincided with the squadron's recent acquisition of its first F-35 Lighting II joint strike fighter.

"The purpose of this event is to recognize those individuals who have earned the right for the added responsibility that comes with being a dedicated crew chief," said Master Sgt. Samuel Smith, 61st AMU section chief. "Service as a dedicated crew chief is a unique opportunity that is met with pride, professionalism and enthusiasm by every individual who is selected for the privilege of crewing the world's most advanced aircraft, the F-35 Lightning II."

Each crew chief was presented with a specially-designed, tail number patch and squadron patch.

"To be a dedicated crew chief, one must stand out as the best in their profession," Smith said. "They must have demonstrated a history of sustained superior performance, complied with all safety practices, technical data requirements, and completed all necessary training. Only after meeting all these requirements, will they be appointed by their senior-ranking maintainer as a dedicated crew chiefs."

Lt. Col. Michael Ebner, 61st Fighter Squadron commander, addressed the crowd and expressed the importance of recognizing crew chiefs for their efforts in maintaining the wing's fleet of F-35 Lightning II aircraft.

"It takes the work and dedication of the crew chiefs to keep a jet in the air," he said. "Pilots put their trust in the dedicated crew chief to have an aircraft that will bring them home safely. It's a huge responsibility to have, and I know the new dedicated crew chiefs will take pride in making sure the jets are good to go."