***image1***The Airmen of the 435th Vehicle Readiness Squadron continue to provide superior quality maintenance on the largest vehicle fleet in the Air Force despite a heavy toll on its work force due to the recent AEF rotation.
The mission of the 435th VRS is to provide the highest quality of vehicle maintenance support to the largest fleet in the Air Force with 2,542 vehicles, ranging from flight-line support vehicles like forklifts, deicers and fire trucks to high-use vehicles such as buses, sedans and trucks.
For example, the 435th VRS is responsible for repairing the ambulance fleet that transports wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
The squadron performs maintenance on 400 different types of vehicles, and their mechanics are in high demand for AEF deployments downrange. In fact, of the 155 Airmen assigned to the unit, more than 30 are now deployed for at least 120 days.
“Losing this amount of manpower means we have to work longer hours and look for ways to ‘work smarter, not harder,’” said Lt. Col. Storm Peterson, 435th VRS commander.
“Understanding how important their job is to the mission makes sure what they fix stays that way,” said Colonel Peterson.
The Airmen of the 435th VRS take pride in knowing when they repair the vehicle, it is not coming back with the same problems. Last year they performed 1,900 maintenance repairs and only 1.2 percent returned back to the shop for the same problem.
“This is unheard of in both the civilian and military sectors and is a testament of how the 435th VRS takes pride and ownership and sets the standard for excellence the first time around,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brigido Serrano, 435th VRS superintendent.
“What inspires these men and women most are the pride they take doing their jobs. Watching vehicles they maintain perform superbly under the stress of daily use and knowing that their work has a direct impact on the mission is one of the greatest rewards their job offers,” said Colonel Peterson.
Being a member of the 435th VRS isn’t just about performing quality maintenance while staffing is minimal.
“We take care of each other, especially our deployed members’ families,” said Tech Sgt. Steve Riggs, 435th VRS NCOIC of general purpose vehicles.
Supervisors take care of their own deployed Airmen’s families by helping with lawn care and car repairs. Deployed Airmen get weekly phone calls to their families. In addition the commander sends out cards to the family members thanking them for their support.
“Even though fewer troops mean more work and longer days, it remains business as usual, and we wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Colonel Peterson.