March Air Reserve Base, Calif. --
MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, California – It’s the middle of August and just under 100 degrees outside when Staff Sgt. Steven Langford a 452nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-17 aircraft hydraulics mechanic, walks through the squadron greeting his co-workers with a smile.
Just before clocking in at 2 p.m., he applies sunscreen to his exposed arms and face, takes a swig from his energy drink, grabs his tools and heads out to the flight line to start his shift.
“Being a part of the Air Force is an amazing experience,” said Langford. “Not many people at the age of 23 can have this opportunity without going to school first and racking up student debt so I am always grateful.”
Langford joined the Air Force right out of high school with the reserves in mind. After arriving at March Air Reserve Base, he was given the opportunity to be an Air Reserve Technician which means he works as a civilian employee during the week to continue the operations of his unit between Unit Training Assembly weekends. As civilian employees, they accumulate sick time, get paid hourly and earn overtime pay.
“The continuity of working full time helps keep the traditional reservists up to speed,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Horowitz, 452nd AMXS superintendent. “His knowledge is a real benefit to the squadron especially when it comes to the UTA weekends.”
Being a Palm Desert, California native, Langford said he feels more attached to his job than most since he is so close to home.
“These planes are here in our backyard so I feel myself and my fellow Airmen take pride in ensuring they’re maintained to the highest standard,” said Langford “We treat them as if they’re our own property.”
It’s important that these aircraft are always mission ready. The 452nd frequently conducts airlift missions to the Middle East, Pacific Theater and European Theater.
“It’s really the best feeling when we get a bird in the air,” said Langford. “I may have maintained that aircraft by replacing a tire or something minor like fixing a chaffed line. Seeing it take off and knowing that I helped get that bird up there is like no other feeling.”
Even though the job is demanding and the weather can be draining, Langford expressed his gratitude for being able to serve his country and for the life that he created for himself.
“Being an ART gave me a lifestyle I didn’t expect I would have for myself for a very long time especially growing up in a single parent household,” said Langford. “It’s very difficult at times but at the end of the day I still get to go home and occasionally take trips to Palm Desert to visit family. I don’t think I could ever go to a normal job after this.”