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Little shop... big responsibility
The 6th Structural Maintenance Shop is up to the challenge

by 2nd Lt. Omar Villarreal
Chief of Internal Information

The 6th Structural Maintenance Shop has more tools than “Tool Time's” Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor, but the journeymen who work there actually know how to use them.

With a crew of 16, and 12 KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft with birthdates ranging from 1959 through 1963 to work on, MacDill's Structural Maintenance Shop stays busy. They fix everything from corrosion spots and bird strikes to working on the substructure and skin of the planes.

Journeymen who work in the Structural Maintenance Shop are available 24 hours a day, including holidays, to ensure if something needs fixing, it will be fixed.

"It takes someone with a lot of mechanical knowledge and creative abilities to work in this shop," said Tech. Sgt. John George, noncommissioned officer in charge of the Structural Maintenance Shop. "Everyday is different and we don't know what we are going to get into until we get into it."

Structural Maintenance Shops like MacDill's save the Air Force millions of dollars each year by repairing equipment that otherwise would have to be purchased new. MacDill's journeymen have an assortment of high-dollar tools (more than a half million dollars worth) available to them to make their jobs a little bit easier and safer. Power sheers, power rollers, aircraft tubing tubers and a newly acquired power sander (which was recently used to prep one of the 135s for painting) are just some of the toys these guys and gals get to play with.

"I like to think of what we do in the shop as artwork," said Senior Airman Dennis Emerson, an aircraft structural maintenance journeyman. "We have fun doing what we do because we enjoy the challenge."

A challenge is exactly what the journeymen at MacDill get. They don't just change out rusted bolts and fix dents. Periodically, MacDill's KC-135s get taken apart, and guess who gets to put the pieces back together.

"Communication is the key to our shop's success," said 2nd Lt. Mathew Foss, officer in charge of the fabrication flight. "These guys work really hard and they fix the unfixable by thinking outside of the box."

Major Grant L. Izzi, 6th Maintenance Group commander said one of the Structural Maintenance Shop’s most recent and notable accomplishment was the refurbishment of the Rodeo Jet. "Taking a 40-year-old aircraft and virtually making it look brand new instilled pride in our great team and wowed the Air Mobility Command judges!"

With lives and lots of money on the line , MacDill's Structural Maintenance Shop journeymen handle what the "Tool Man" could only dream of.

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