Total Force Enterprise in QA

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Lausanne Kinder
  • 944th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Among those who maintain aircraft, equipment, munitions and weapons, the most technically proficient are given the chance to excel even further by becoming quality assurance inspectors. QA inspectors work directly for the 56th Maintenance Group commander to ensure safe and reliable aircraft and weapons systems.

The 56th Maintenance Group QA houses 65 personnel, including four air reserve technicians, one Active Guard/Reserve, and four traditional reservists from the 944th Fighter Wing making it a model for Total Force Integration and Total Force Enterprise.

Airmen from the 944th receive the same training and perform the same duties as their active duty counterparts.

Master Sgt. Jon Gonzales, an ART with the 944th Maintenance Group, and Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Miller, 56th MXG, are both F-35 avionics inspectors, who work side-by-side on a daily basis.

“The [944th Fighter Wing] does not own the aircraft [at Luke] so we have to be 100 percent TFI,” said Gonzales. “Since we all work on the same equipment it makes sense for us to work out of the same shop. Our TFI/TFE program enables congruity and continuity in all aspects of aircraft maintenance.”

Gonzales was one of the original Airmen to start working for the 944th Fighter Wing before the 944th MXG was reactivated in 2018, after almost 12 years of being inactive.

When asked about the differences working with both active duty and Reserve, Gonzales and Miller agreed that there’s not much of a difference.

“We are all here to perform the same mission,” said Gonzales.

QA performs more than 1,500 inspections per month between the F-35 Lightning II and F-16 Fighting Falcon housed at Luke. When not conducting inspections, they are researching regulations to ensure the most accurate information is being passed down.

Since the reactivation of the 944th MXG, there are now 430 Reserve Citizen Airmen working directly with their active duty counterparts in their respective career fields.

“Most days I can’t even tell the difference between who’s reservist or who’s active duty,” added Miller.

Before working in QA, Miller and Gonzales also worked together at the 61st Aircraft Maintenance Unit.

“A lot of Reservist have more time-in-service so they bring in more experience across different airframes and [Air Force Specialty Codes],” said Miller. “Luke is the first base where I’ve been a part of a unit with TFI/TFE. The extra manning the Reservists provide helps us complete the mission.”

Gonzales also credits his early success to Reserve Citizen Airmen.

“At my first active duty assignment, it was the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom and the majority of active duty maintainers were deployed when I arrived on station,” he said. “It was the ARTs and TRs on orders who trained me. In less than a year they had me ready to deploy.”

Gonzales was not always an ART. Like many Reservists with the 944th, he served on active duty and has more than 17 years in the Air Force. He plans to continue serving, bringing both active duty and Reserve experience to the mission.