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Commander, command chief tackle dirty jobs

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Col. Richard Boltz, the 30th Space Wing commander, and Staff Sgt. Brian Flynn a 30th Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle and equipment technician, direct an overhead crane into position to prep a dump truck for inserting a hydraulic cylinder here Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, the 30th Space Wing command chief, will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers.(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Col. Richard Boltz, the 30th Space Wing commander, and Staff Sgt. Brian Flynn a 30th Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle and equipment technician, direct an overhead crane into position to prep a dump truck for inserting a hydraulic cylinder here Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, the 30th Space Wing command chief, will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers.(U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Col. Richard Boltz, the 30th Space Wing commander, and Staff Sgt. Brian Flynn, a 30th Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle and equipment technician, properly insert the hydraulic cylinder into the Sterling dump truck here Thursday Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel  Boltz and Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, the 30th Space Wing command chief, will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Col. Richard Boltz, the 30th Space Wing commander, and Staff Sgt. Brian Flynn, a 30th Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle and equipment technician, properly insert the hydraulic cylinder into the Sterling dump truck here Thursday Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, the 30th Space Wing command chief, will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Col. Richard Boltz, the 30th Space Wing commander, tightens a hydraulic cylinder pipe on a Sterlling dump truck here Thursday,  Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Col. Richard Boltz, the 30th Space Wing commander, tightens a hydraulic cylinder pipe on a Sterlling dump truck here Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Staff Sgt. Brian Flynn, a 30th Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle and equipment technician tightens a pipe on a hydraulic cylinder on a Sterling dump truck here Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Staff Sgt. Brian Flynn, a 30th Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle and equipment technician tightens a pipe on a hydraulic cylinder on a Sterling dump truck here Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, the 30th Space Wing command chief assist Staff Sgt Brian Flynn, a 30th Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle and equipment technician is tightening a bolt on a hydraulic cylinder here Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, the 30th Space Wing command chief assist Staff Sgt Brian Flynn, a 30th Logistic Readiness Squadron vehicle and equipment technician is tightening a bolt on a hydraulic cylinder here Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Staff Sgt. Brian Flynn, a 30th Logistic Readiness Squadron, vehicle and equipment technician, shares  standard operating procedures with Col. Richard Boltz, the 30th Space Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson,  the 30th Space Wing command chief,  before working on a Sterling dump truck here Thursday,  Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Staff Sgt. Brian Flynn, a 30th Logistic Readiness Squadron, vehicle and equipment technician, shares standard operating procedures with Col. Richard Boltz, the 30th Space Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, the 30th Space Wing command chief, before working on a Sterling dump truck here Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010. Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson will be partaking monthly in activities within Team V's work centers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Antoinette Gibson)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- As the saying goes, "it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it."

For a few early morning hours Aug. 5 the dirty job was working as a mechanic with the 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron's vehicle maintenance flight. The task: replacing a hydraulic cylinder on a Sterling dump truck.

Then, there were the workers--first-timers on a task that, along with many like it, are essential to the day-to-day operations that enable the mission to go on. It was a dirty job, and that morning it was up to Col. Richard Boltz, 30th Space Wing commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Angelica Johnson, 30th Space Wing command chief, to get 'er done.

The vehicle maintenance shop was the first stop for the commander and command chief who are setting time aside periodically to immerse themselves in the countless work areas where strange, difficult, and downright disgusting jobs are being tackled by Team Vandenberg.

"I know there are a lot of people on this base that are doing a lot of hard work that doesn't always make the front page because it's not the real glamorous work you see on launch day," said Colonel Boltz. "However, without these people doing these jobs in the background we couldn't do what we do on a launch day. So visiting these areas is an effort to highlight the superstars who are out doing this great behind-the scenes."

The superstars Aug. 5, the ones who daily accomplish the tough, gritty and grimy work at the 30th LRS, were none other than Staff Sgt. Brian Flynn, an Orange County native, and Airman 1st Class Aaron Huffmaster of Royal Oak, Mich. Sergeant Flynn and Airman Huffmaster guided Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson through the hydraulic cylinder replacement.

"Every once and awhile we receive a large task like this, but they vary from time to time," Sergeant Flynn said.

Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson helped the vehicle maintainers position a crane to hoist the bed of the truck in the air to create working space. Since the previous hydraulic cylinder, which failed prematurely, had already been removed by the mechanics, the new cylinder was ready to be lifted, positioned and fastened by Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson.

Not long after the work began, grease and grime started soaking through the overalls worn by the wing commander, command chief and the vehicle mechanics, and more muck would follow before the task was accomplished.

"This is definitely a dirty job," said Sergeant Flynn. "Vehicles are just naturally dirty, and that dirt eventually rubs off on all of us here in the multipurpose shop."

After a few hours, and with the expert guidance of Sergeant Flynn and Airman Huffmaster, the cylinder was in place. Colonel Boltz fired up the truck, which sputtered briefly than came to a roar. After a bleeding air from the hydraulic system, they looked back at the cylinder to see if the hydraulic system was working properly. Confirmation came shortly thereafter when the bed of the truck smoothly raised to its upright position, a sure sign of a successfully installation.

"When you think about it, the work these guys are doing really plays into keeping our Airmen safe," Colonel Boltz said. "These guys are turning wrenches that make a difference for everybody on this base every day."

The work done on the Sterling truck was just one example of that accomplished by the cadre of 30th LRS specialists responsible for keeping the base's vehicles and equipment in top running order. And, those vehicles and equipment aren't typical or small. The vehicle maintainers here are responsible for the maintenance of various out-of-the-ordinary vehicles such as fire trucks, bulldozers, dump trucks, and vehicles used to transport and hoist rockets into place.

"What I enjoy most about this job is a combination of things," said Sergeant Flynn. "The tasks of the job keep changing and we are working on something new every day. Ultimately, though, I'd say it's the people I work with that make this job enjoyable."

The men and women of the 30th LRS vehicle maintenance flight are able to keep the base behind the wheel by maintaining not only its vehicles, but also by exuding the professionalism, dedication and drive that defines Vandenberg's Airmen.

"I saw some teamwork here today and I was thoroughly impressed with our Airmen," said Chief Johnson. "I am confident that our Airmen are out there safe when they are driving these types of vehicles."

The next job Colonel Boltz and Chief Johnson plan to carry out in late August might even impress Mike Rowe, as they venture into Vandenberg's underworld - the sewer system.

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