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News | April 26, 2024

DCMA welcomes Air Force recruits to C-130 production

By Jason Kaneshiro DCMA Eastern Region Public Affairs

Air Force delayed entry program members embraced a rare opportunity for an up-close encounter with military aircraft before shipping off to initial entry training.

Defense Contract Management Agency Lockheed Martin Marietta personnel coordinated a contractor facility tour that highlighted the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and demonstrated DCMA’s role in ensuring product quality, on-time delivery, stewardship and customer engagement.

Air Force Master Sgt. Hugh Wilson, government ground representative for DCMA Aircraft Integrated Maintenance Operations, spearheaded the initiative. He reached out to the local Air Force recruiting office to see if there were any opportunities for DCMA to assist recruiting efforts.

“The intent of reaching out was to open the door to not only assist the recruiting effort but also to be able to provide mentorship,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Schafer, DCMA Lockheed Martin Marietta chief of flight operations. “As this is a unique assignment for military members, there are not a large number of opportunities to mentor younger generations.”

The contract management office approved the visit before sending it to Lockheed Martin for final approval, Schafer said.

“Master Sgt. Wilson coordinated for multiple escorts and gathered personal information on the visitors so they could be granted access to the Lockheed Martin Marietta facility,” he said. “Additionally, he coordinated with the Air Operations team to have members conduct a question-and-answer session following the plant tour.”

The future recruits represented an array of Air Force military occupational specialties to include maintainers, air crew and non-aviation positions. 

“It was a fairly good mix of various jobs,” Schafer said. “While the primary goal of this event was to provide an insight into both maintenance and aircraft related jobs, it was also to excite the recruits on things they will be working with or supporting once they join.”

Exposing the recruits to the size, complexity, and importance of just one of the production facilities that produce Air Force aircraft also allowed the participants to realize they are going to be part something bigger than they may have imagined, said Amos Tolson, quality assurance specialist at DCMA LM Marietta.

Tolson provided a guided tour of the C-130 Production Line and provided insights on the manufacturing processes.

“The DEP Air Force recruits were shown some of the most critical component fabrication processes that must be free of defects to assure those vital landings are achieved every time,” Tolson said. “It’s been said that taking off in an airplane is optional, but landing is mandatory. Our warfighters count on that C-130 landing safely for the success of every wartime, peacetime, humanitarian, aeromedical, firefighting, in-flight refuel and disaster relief mission.”

Tolson, who joined the Air Force through the delayed entry program himself, said he was not sure which career path he should choose when he first enlisted in 1995.

As a recruit, I had the opportunity to visit the Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson Air Force Base with my recruiter,” Tolson said. “To this day, nearly 30 years later, I still remember the conversations I had with those maintainers, which led me to my career in aircraft maintenance.”

Tolson said that after he told the future Airmen that he is a retired Air Force aircraft maintainer, they began to ask him specific questions about career fields they were considering.

“We had not planned on visiting the fuel tank build up area of the production floor until one of the recruits informed us that she was to be fuel system maintenance specialist,” Tolson said. “Having the privilege to introduce her to the very first fuel tank was enlightening for her, and you could see the excitement on her face.”

This event provided opportunities for hands-on interaction with actual Air Force assets. Despite their future as enlisted Airmen, some of them may not have another opportunity in the future to get up close to an aircraft in production based on their specific career field, said Schafer.

“It was evident that getting to see the aircraft and learn about the multitude of mission sets the C-130J fills was interesting and motivational for these new recruits,” Schafer said.

Schafer said they intend to build upon the relationship with local Air Force recruiters to support them in different aspects of recruiting, which will in turn help to better develop DCMA’s noncommissioned officers and senior noncommissioned officer’s leadership abilities.