MOC: Maintenance's Command Post

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- With 24-hour operations five days per week and Airmen on standby during the weekends, 'busy' is a bit of an understatement for the 52nd Maintenance Group's Maintenance Operations Center.

A small unit consisting of 11 Airmen, the MOC is charged with monitoring the status of all aircraft and equipment and sending that information up to commanders.

"We're the conduit between the flight line and the group and USAFE," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Sean Buck, MOC superintendent. "We get the information, and send it back out to where it needs to go. We're kind of like the command post for maintenance."

According to Buck, the MOC is also in charge of coordinating maintenance and logistics support for fighter aircraft on Spangdahlem, as well as helping to ensure safe operations on the flight line.

"Going from the flight line to the MOC really opens your eyes to the importance of what we do here," U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ian McNett, a MOC controller, said. "Originally you think it's just a back agency that doesn't really do much, but coming here you get a whole different perspective."

When members of the MOC do get downtime, Buck ensures they are constantly going through training to help improve performance and safety.

In addition to Air Force specific courses, this includes training through the Federal Aviation Administration. While outside training isn't required by the Air Force, Buck said they choose to do it since it can help broaden the MOC's knowledge base.

"We try to focus on things like process and product innovation," Buck said. "This training is a great way to increase our effectiveness."

The FAA recently awarded this focus by making the MOC the only active duty Air Force unit to be awarded the FAA William O'Brien Aviation Maintenance Technician Awards Program's "Diamond of Excellence" for 2015.

The FAA's highest training award, the Diamond Award can only be earned when all eligible members of an organization earn individual training awards during the past year. The MOC won a total of nine individual awards: eight "Bronze Level" awards for completing at least 12 hours of eligible aviation maintenance training and one "Gold Level" award for completing at least 80 hours of eligible training and at least three credit hours of a college-level course.

An organization's operations and challenges faced over the last year are also factors in winning the award.

"To be recognized by the FAA and receive their highest industry award is extremely humbling," Buck said. "We're a small section and not the largest MOC in the Air Force, but we are driven to grow in knowledge and inspire innovation."

Buck said this is the first time this unit has won the award.

"I am incredibly proud of our MOC," U.S. Air Force Col. James Humes, 52nd MG commander said. "This award is indicative of the effort the MOC team continually provides to the maintenance group and the rest of the Wing. As maintainers, we hold ourselves to the highest of maintenance and safety standards, and the Diamond Award is a reflection of our commitment and dedication to maintaining our fleet while making safety our top priority."

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman David Hartley, a MOC controller, said he felt honored to have contributed to winning such a prestigious award. "It was a great to be recognized on a higher level for the tasks we do on a daily basis."

"It feels amazing," fellow MOC controller U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Curtis Morgan added before turning to answer yet another call from the flight line.