Many are fascinated by high-tech equipment, but only a few understand the complexity of maintaining and repairing them. The Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory technicians from the 86th Maintenance Squadron are one of the few who do understand.
Ramstein’s PMEL is the largest out of three in U.S. Air Forces in Europe – the other two are located in Feltwell, England, and Aviano, Italy. Seventy Airmen make sure aircraft and ground support equipment meet the Air Force’s standards.
The PMEL technician’s work of calibrating, inspecting and aligning utensils are vital for the success of Air Force missions beyond Ramstein or Europe.
“We support 319 work centers throughout Europe and Southwest Asia. We receive and send out items to Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, United Arab Emirates and Egypt to name a few,” said Tech. Sgt. Jason Perry, 86th MXS direct current voltage low frequency section non-commissioned officer in charge. “You see a broad range of equipment. Anything from a generator, which produces power levels and frequencies, to stones, which we measure the height, weight and flatness of. We are part of the maintenance squadron, but we basically are a support unit for all of Ramstein, USAFE and Southwest Asia.”
Out of the 70 technicians, one Airman stands out because he is extraordinarily dedicated to doing his job well – Staff Sgt. Jirayu Wisutapayak, 86th MXS direct current voltage low frequency section technician. Sergeant Wisutapayak said he joined the Air Force to serve his country and that means giving his all, no matter what he does.
Even though he’d rather program computers than be a PMEL technician, he emphasized that if he does something, he wants to be good at it.
And Sergeant Perry agreed.
“It is not that he is naturally good at PMEL, it is that he applies himself and takes pride in what he does; it is his desire to be good,” Sergeant Perry said.
Sergeant Wisutapayak is the only one in the direct current voltage low frequency section of PMEL to be able to complete every task done in his particular section, without exception.
Additionally, he has been able to qualify, as one out of three in the entire Air Force to calibrate infrared target simulators. Sergeant Wisutapayak was trained by Tech. Sgt. Jerry Goode, the second most qualified person who is also stationed at Ramstein. Under Sergeant Goode’s training, Sergeant Wisutapayak calibrated 10 simulators and restored the on-aircraft missile testing capability, affecting USAFE and U.S. Air Forces Central Command.
Since the third most qualified person is a civilian at the United Kingdom PMEL, Ramstein is really the only place for military personnel to be trained, Sergeant Perry said.
“It is rare in that aspect and even more rare to be the person to be chosen to learn how,” he added.
Another unique accomplishment, impacting not only USAFE but downrange as well, is that Sergeant Wisutapayak managed to align several calibrators, a necessity to the PMEL technicians, in half of the obligated time. Consequently, the calibration of items did not have to be delayed, which affected 25 percent of Al Udeid Air Base’s, Qatar, output.
“The reason I was able to finish in half of the normal time is that for two or three years, I was the only person in the lab who was able to do it, and I became an expert. After aligning 15 calibrators, it became routine, and I was able to do it quick,” Sergeant Wisutapayak said.
And having excellent penmanship was something the staff sergeant said benefited his section directly.
He inscribes certification labels in a way not distinguishable from digital prints. That way a printer label is of no more use.
“Most people’s handwriting is too big, so they come to me and I help them out,” Sergeant Wisutapayak said. “And speaking English is not one of my strengths, but my writing explains a lot.”
The sergeant also trained 7-level technicians, while he was a Senior Airman. He volunteered to do so in order to meet new people arriving to the lab.
“We have 75 people who rotate every year, so if people come in as a staff sergeant they still have to be trained,” he said.
Helping out is dear to Sergeant Wisutapayak’s heart, even when he is off-duty.
As the event coordinator for the 86th Maintenance Squadron Booster Club, he raises money for the squadron by planning, organizing, coordinating and promoting fundraisers on base for the non-profit organization.
He also has volunteered 120 hours in the last three months to Armed Forces Against Drunk Driving, potentially saving hundreds of lives.
“I don’t drink in Germany; I drink in Thailand,” Sergeant Wisutapayak said. “In Germany, the cab is too expensive. When I joined the Air Force, I used to drive my friends from technical school home. I then thought instead of doing it for a small amount of people, I could volunteer, go out and still help people at the same time.”
And his devotion to all he does is greatly appreciated.
“All the recognition he receives is well deserved. He has been a great worker for me. Everything is fully deserved,” Sergeant Perry said. “Sergeant Wisutapayak has that kind of personal pride in whatever he does. That is just what kind of person he is.”