Vehicle management flight keeps GOVs rollin'

Staff Sgt. Fernando Mendiola, 52nd Logistics Readiness Squdron, a general purpose vehicle maintainer, replaces an alternator on a HUMVEE. The general purpose vehicle and vehicular equipment maintainers attend a 16-week long technical school at Port Hueneme, Calif. Upon completion,  they are equipped to maintain the majority of vehicles and vehicular equipment found on most Air Force bases throughout the world.  (US Air Force photo by Nick Anderson)

Staff Sgt. Fernando Mendiola, 52nd Logistics Readiness Squdron, a general purpose vehicle maintainer, replaces an alternator on a HUMVEE. The general purpose vehicle and vehicular equipment maintainers attend a 16-week long technical school at Port Hueneme, Calif. Upon completion, they are equipped to maintain the majority of vehicles and vehicular equipment found on most Air Force bases throughout the world. (US Air Force photo by Nick Anderson)

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, GERMANY -- He's up early in the morning, heads to work and after jumping into his coveralls, he grabs the day's work orders and "goes at it." Whether it's fixing brakes, replacing water pumps, steering and suspension, tires and gaskets all types, this is the typical day for this Oshkosh, Wis., native. 

"I work on general purpose vehicles like pick-up trucks, sedans, vans, cop cars, buses and semi-trucks," said Senior Airman Kevin Clark, 52nd Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle management flight, general purpose vehicle maintainer. 

"We also have special purpose vehicles like bobtails, forklifts and trailers. I guess I just get down and dirty with whatever is needed for the vehicle to get back to the operator," he said. 

With approximately 99 people -- including military and civilians -- servicing about 1,001 base vehicles and equipment, the flight is charged with maintaining safe and serviceable vehicles throughout the vehicle's lifetime. And safety is always first. 

It is a tall order, but according to Senior Master Sgt. Don Goynes, 52nd LRS vehicle management flight, vehicle fleet manager, they get it done and without cutting any corners. They repair all the base's government vehicles, provide continuous maintenance service, and efficient and economical transportation services to the 52nd Fighter Wing, Eifel community and its geographically separated units. 

"Through our expert customer service center, vehicles are received, repaired and returned to users with optimum concern for safety and serviceability," Sergeant Goynes said. "We also determine the most efficient means of using resources to support the mission. We correct problems with training, operations, personnel, facilities, equipment and workload."   

The flight's members uphold the highest of standards and attribute their hard work and mission success to not just their active-duty maintainers, but to their German counterparts as well. 

"The majority of the civilians working in the vehicle management flight are German nationals," said Master Sgt. Joe Oswald, 52nd LRS vehicle management flight, superintendent. 

"They provide vital continuity and corporate knowledge of the base vehicle fleet. In addition, they contribute greatly to the training and increased proficiency of our Airmen. The working relationship between our military and German nationals is outstanding. It took their combined efforts to earn us the 2006 U.S. Air Forces in Europe Vehicle Management Flight of the Year." 

Without vehicle maintenance support, security forces squadron personnel couldn't protect the base, civil engineer squadron couldn't fight fires, aircraft maintenance squadron couldn't tow or repair aircraft, Sergeant Goynes said. 

"The shuttle buses wouldn't run and the flightline and base roads wouldn't be cleared of snow. Vehicle management has a direct impact on every unit that operates a government owned vehicle. Without our support, the 52nd FW mission would not happen," he said.