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Squadron load crews face off in competition

366th Maintenance Group commander Col. Scott Grover presents the trophy for the quarterly load competition to the 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit January 29, 2018, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The maintenance load competition simulates the pressure of a deployed environment when load crews work quickly and efficiently to prepare jets for missions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chester Mientkiewicz)

Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Fuselier, 366th Maintenance Group wing weapons manager, inspects Republic of Singapore Air Force ME3 Kent Yao, 428th Fighter Squadron maintenance engineer, during a load crew competition January 29, 2018, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The competition pitted three load crews against each other to prepare for combat situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chester Mientkiewicz)

The 428th Fighter Squadron competes in a quarterly load competition during a load crew competition January 29, 2018, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The 428th Fighter Squadron has been participating in the quarterly event since 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chester Mientkiewicz)

366th Maintenance Group commander Col. Scott Grover presents Senior Airman Nicholas Pagan, 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons load crew member, with the 1st place trophy for the munitions lift truck maneuverability competition January 29, 2018, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The vehicle is an integral part of the loading process as some munitions can weigh several hundred pounds. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chester Mientkiewicz)

Staff Sgt. Thad Hansen, 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit weapons load crew chief, instructs the driver to raise the munition during a load crew competition January 29, 2018, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The competition simulates deployed settings while loading munitions onto aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chester Mientkiewicz)

Republic of Singapore Air Force ME1 Yip Thye Soon, 428th Fighter Squadron maintenance engineer, competes in a load crew competition January 29, 2018, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The event has been a quarterly competition on base since 1964. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chester Mientkiewicz)

Republic of Singapore Air Force ME2 Jeremy Cheong, 428th Fighter Squadron maintenance engineer, competes in a load crew competition January 29, 2018, at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho. The object of the competition was to build team camaraderie and strengthen combat readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Chester Mientkiewicz)

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- The 389th Aircraft Maintenance Unit proved its weapons loaders were the wing's best during a quarterly weapons load competition January 29.

The 428th "Buccaneers", the 389th "T-bolts" and the 391st "Tigers" went up against each other in hopes of walking away with bragging rights as the best of the best.

“Winning was very important to us,” said Staff Sgt. Thad Hansen, 389th AMU weapons load crew chief. “It’s been awhile since the 389th won this competition.”

The competition began with each team doing a uniform inspection, followed by a written test on anything and everything regarding loading munitions. As soon as the written test was finished, they had roughly 30 minutes to review their jet and training munitions. After the review the actual loading happened and in the end everything was factored into an overall score.

While this event is a large attraction every quarter, the actual functions they demonstrate are performed all year long, including a required monthly certification.

“The load competition isn’t won by one individual.” Hansen said. “It takes all three of us. Everyone has to be on point.”

Hansen’s teammates included weapons load crew members Senior Airman Nicholas Pagan and Airman 1st Class Edgar Sokolovich.

In conjunction with the load competition, there is a bomb loader maneuverability course. The course tests the operator's driving abilities on a munitions lift truck as they navigate a series of cones.

Pagan won the event completing the sweep for the 389th.

“It’s rare for an individual to win both jammer and load competitions,” Pagan said. “This is something that doesn’t happen very often.”

While the event is a fun competition, it is a viewer friendly version of a very serious and important job where tiny details can mean massive failure or great success.

“Events like this raise moral while having fun competing,” Pagan said.