Prior-service Air Force maintainers share leadership, time-management skills

Staff Sgt. Ryan Davis, 445th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics specialist, troubleshoots communications systems aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft July 9 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/STAFF SGT. ETHAN SPICKLER

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Staff Sgt. Ryan Davis, 445th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics specialist, troubleshoots communications systems aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft July 9 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/STAFF SGT. ETHAN SPICKLER

445TH Air Lift Wing

One of the most important aspects of service that makes Airmen formidable and allows the Air Force to excel is experience. Every Airman’s journey is unique, and there are many who began their military service in other branches of the armed forces.

Many leadership skills translate well from other services, and having diverse Airmen with distinct experiences provides tangible benefits for the Air Force. For important and varied career fields like maintenance, these experiences give Airmen the opportunity to learn, grow and lead.

Staff Sgt. Ryan Davis, a 445th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron avionics specialist and former Army infantryman, said he’s enjoyed his transition to the Air Force Reserve and it’s been a great experience to pass on the leadership skills he learned in the Army.

“It’s fulfilling to have the opportunity to work at being a good leader, to help guide others in balancing their responsibilities,” he said. “It allows us to expedite the learning process a little bit and get people on the fast track to success.”

Davis was a mortar gunner in the Army. Among the most important takeaways he brought over to the 445th Airlift Wing from his prior service was the value of leadership.

“It’s rewarding to take past experiences and help others learn from your successes and your mistakes,” he said. “That’s what being a leader is all about.”

Given the demand placed on Airmen skills in the maintenance field, it’s crucial that leaders can manage maintenance activities and rely on their personnel to lead from the front.

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Tech. Sgt. Bradley Fryman, 445th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron communications and navigation technician, sets up systems equipment aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft July 9. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/MASTER SGT. PATRICK O’REILLY

Tech. Sgt. Bradley Fryman, 445th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron communications and navigation technician, sets up systems equipment aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft July 9. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/MASTER SGT. PATRICK O’REILLY

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Tech. Sgt. Bradley Fryman, 445th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron communications and navigation technician, sets up systems equipment aboard a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft July 9. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/MASTER SGT. PATRICK O’REILLY

Davis believes the small-team leadership skills that were his focus in the Army contribute to his current view of the Air Force.

“I enjoy doing hands-on work and being involved in the process, and I enjoy working in small teams and building relationships with the Airmen I work with,” he said. “I really appreciate the professionalism of the Air Force at every level. People have taken me under their wing and now I have the opportunity to take younger Airmen under my wing and pay it forward by sharing my experiences with them.”

The responsibilities of maintenance Airmen are an integral part of the wing mission. From inspecting and troubleshooting equipment to making hands-on repairs and maintaining proper standards, these professionals make sure 445th planes are always ready for flight. Having maintenance Airmen with experience from other branches boosts the Air Force, wing leaders said.

Another important skill Airmen learn and apply daily is time management. Different branches operate in ways that can provide unique challenges and inform how Airmen with that prior experience tackle day-to-day operations in the Air Force.

“Some of the most important skills that are needed in today’s environment are time management and the ability to prioritize activities,” said Tech. Sgt. Bradley Fryman, a communications and navigation technician with 445 AMXS and prior Navy maintainer. “What we do requires us to manage stress and also meet and hopefully exceed expectations. How we look at leadership plays a huge role in making our maintenance activities a success.”

Fryman believes his experience working on aircraft aboard carriers helped develop his leadership skills and gave him a passion for problem-solving. He sees good leadership as a means of accomplishing the mission and setting up younger Airmen for success.

“How we view leadership is key to not getting bogged down with problems and finding solutions instead,” he said. “It was a great choice to come here to the 445th, and I am thankful for the experiences that I have had and the opportunities that I have to bring that experience to the table. I feel like my transition from the Navy to the Air Force allowed me to carry over skills and knowledge to what we do here in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t.”

The valuable contributions made to the Air Force by prior-service Airmen from other branches is corroborated by unit leadership. Senior Master Sgt. Gerald Sandoval, 445 AMXS Aircraft Maintenance Unit Flight chief, sees these Airmen and their experiences as positive additions to the squadron.

“What I immediately noticed from both Staff Sgt. Davis and Tech Sgt. Fryman was how they utilized some of their culture and skill sets learned as an Army infantry Soldier and a Navy aviation technician,” Sandoval said. “They have definitely been noticed by their teammates, as well as supervisors, as excellent young leaders and go-to technicians who will ensure they are carrying out the mission while always looking out for the safety and well-being of the members around them.”

Airmen like Davis and Fryman who served in other branches demonstrate that prior experience matters, not just technically for the jobs they currently perform but also in how they approach people, leadership, and the Air Force’s culture of knowledge and problem-solving, he added. This relationship between currently serving in the Air Force and bringing over experience from prior service highlights the fact that diverse Airmen with diverse experiences make the Air Force stronger.

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