703rd MUNSS Airman goes above and beyond

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Chad Warren
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In the profession of arms, weapons and weapon proficiency take a central role. No matter which career field one holds, armed combat serves at the historical core of all military service. At Volkel Air Base, the Netherlands, one security forces Airman goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure not only the weapons proficiency of the base populace, but also the accountability and condition of the firearms and ammunition.

As the 703rd Munitions Support Squadron combat arms NCO in charge, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Silk, a Woodbury, Vt. native, guarantees all applicable personnel maintain weapons certifications. The 703rd MUNSS, a geographically separated unit of the 52nd Fighter Wing at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, operates with a smaller work force than its parent wing. Therefore, Silk also assumes the responsibility of managing Volkel's armory.

"Staff Sgt. Silk's CATM program was flawless ... and his armory was identified as the best the inspector had seen in 34 years," said Senior Master Sgt. James Greenlaw, 703rd MUNSS Security Forces manager. "The inspector was 'core' CATM and has a reputation of being very detailed and hard on armory inspections."

Prior to 1997, combat arms warranted its own career field or Air Force Specialty Code and was not a part of the security forces community. The reference to "core" CATM means the Airman entered the Air Force as part of the original career field before the merger.

"Being awarded with such language makes it an honor," Silk said. "It's extremely difficult to impress those who were in the original Small Arms Marksmanship Training Unit, Gunsmith, and Combat Arms Training and Maintenance careers."

Silk's level of detail and commitment to the mission results from pride in his job, which is not confined only to pre-inspection time, said Greenlaw.

"Silk didn't do it in preparation for the inspection, he does this every day," he said. "There's no such thing as 'duty hours' to Ryan because he works until the job is complete by his standards."

On his desk sits a small silver box with the inscription:

Maintenance Man of the Month
TSgt Merton M. Silk
June 1965

"My grandfather," said Silk, a fourth generation service member after his great-grandfather's first service with the Vermont Army National Guard.

He cited his family history as one of the reasons he takes so much pride in his military service.

"Staff Sgt. Silk is the epitome of 'Service Before Self'," Greenlaw said. "In a squadron of 24 separate AFSCs, there's not a single Airman who doesn't appreciate what he does."