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Part 1 - Flightline closure relocates McChord operations

Senior Airman Eddie Castillo and Staff Sgt. Christine Kramer, 627th security forces airmen, man the gate at March Air Reserve Base in California, March 3, 2019.

Senior Airman Eddie Castillo and Staff Sgt. Christine Kramer, 627th security forces Airmen, man the gate at March Air Reserve Base in California, April 3, 2019. During the McChord flightiness closure, operations relocated to March ARB along with some 627th SFS Airmen to augment the March security forces. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Mikayla Heineck)

Senior Airman Nathan Cremeans, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals a C-17 Globemaster III as it prepares to take off from March Air Reserve Base in California, April 3, 2019.

Senior Airman Nathan Cremeans, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, marshals a C-17 Globemaster III as it prepares to take off from March Air Reserve Base in California, April 3, 2019. Because of the McChord flightline closure for repairs, March - June, 2019, several McChord maintenance personnel were relocated to March ARB to keep the mission going. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Mikayla Heineck)

Airman 1st Class Kevin Molina, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels technician, adjusts the control panel on a fuel truck on March Air Reserve Base in California, March 1, 2019.

Airman 1st Class Kevin Molina, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels technician, adjusts the control panel on a fuel truck on March Air Reserve Base in California, April 1, 2019. The fuel trucks used by the 627th LRS can pump up to 600 gallons of fuel per minute. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Mikayla Heineck)

Master Sgt. Ruel Lechadores, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, and Airman 1st Class Ryan Watts, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, communicate and work to repair an engine on a C-17 Globemaster III, April 3, 2019, on March Air Reserve Base in California.

Master Sgt. Ruel Lechadores, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, and Airman 1st Class Ryan Watts, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, communicate and work to repair an engine on a C-17 Globemaster III, April 3, 2019, on March Air Reserve Base in California. Several crew chiefs from McChord were relocated to March ARB because of the McChord flightline closure for repairs March - June, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Mikayla Heineck)

Airman 1st Class Shon Darra Smith, 627th Force Support Squadron fitness specialist, and Marco DeFelice, March Air Reserve Base fitness specialist, man the front desk at the March Air Reserve Base Fitness Center in California, March 1, 2019.

Airman 1st Class Shon Darra Smith, 627th Force Support Squadron fitness specialist, and Marco DeFelice, March Air Reserve Base fitness specialist, man the front desk at the March Air Reserve Base Fitness Center in California, April 1, 2019. The March Fitness Center is normally open from 5:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., but Airmen from the 627th FSS are assisting in keeping it open for more hours of the day to accommodate the McChord Airmen who are temporarily relocated to March because of the McChord flightline closure. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Mikayla Heineck)

Several crew chiefs from the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work to repair the engine of C-17 Globemaster III on March Air Reserve Base in California, April 3, 2019.

Several crew chiefs from the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work to repair the engine of C-17 Globemaster III on March Air Reserve Base in California, April 3, 2019. Because of the McChord flightline closure for repairs March - June, 2019, several Airmen from the 62nd Maintenance Group were relocated to alternate locations to keep the mission going. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Mikayla Heineck)

Airman 1st Class Brendan Watts, Airman 1st Class Ryan Watts, and Master Sgt. Jonathon Whitmer, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chiefs, examine an igniter plug from the engine of a C-17 Globemaster III on March Air Reserve Base, California, April 3, 2019.

Airman 1st Class Brendan Watts, Airman 1st Class Ryan Watts, and Master Sgt. Jonathon Whitmer, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chiefs, examine an igniter plug from the engine of a C-17 Globemaster III on March Air Reserve Base, California, April 3, 2019. Because of the McChord flightline closure for repairs March - June, 2019, several crew chiefs were relocated to March ARB and other locations to keep the mission going. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Mikayla Heineck)

Chief Master Sgt. Stephanie Northup, 7th Airlift Squadron chief enlisted manager, far right, in-briefs Chief Master Sgt. Will Palmer, her replacement as the chief enlisted manager for McChord operations at March Air Reserve Base in California, March 2, 2019.

Chief Master Sgt. Stephanie Northup, 7th Airlift Squadron chief enlisted manager, far right, in-briefs Chief Master Sgt. Will Palmer, her replacement as the chief enlisted manager for McChord operations at March Air Reserve Base in California, April 2, 2019. Swap-outs of certain positions at March ARB, such as chief enlisted manager, happen throughout the time McChord operations are temporarily relocated to March ARB. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Mikayla Heineck)

Three McChord C-17 Globemaster III aircraft sit on the March Air Reserve Base flightline in California, April 1, 2019. During the McChord flightline closure for repairs, March-June, 2019.

Three McChord C-17 Globemaster III aircraft sit on the March Air Reserve Base flightline in California, April 1, 2019. During the McChord flightline closure for repairs, March-June, 2019, some operations moved to alternate locations such as March ARB to keep the mission going. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Mikayla Heineck)

Master Sgt. Ruel Lechadores, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, and Airman 1st Class Conner Bentley, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, close up the outside of an engine on a C-17 Globemaster III, April 3, 2019, on March Air Reserve Base in California.
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Master Sgt. Ruel Lechadores, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, and Airman 1st Class Conner Bentley, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, close up the outside of an engine on a C-17 Globemaster III, April 3, 2019, on March Air Reserve Base in California. Several crew chiefs from McChord were relocated to March ARB because of the McChord flightline closure for repairs March - June, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Mikayla Heineck)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, Calif. --

The McChord Field flightline at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), Washington, closed for renovations March 1st and operations relocated to maintain worldwide capabilities. Leading up to the closure date, McChord Airmen were already prepared at March Air Reserve Base (ARB), California- ready to continue the mission.

To support reduced capability from JBLM, about 300 Airmen from McChord flew to March ARB Feb. 20th where operations will continue for the remainder of the flightline closure, tentatively scheduled to re-open in June.

“Local missions are still being flown out of Gray Army Airfield,” said Maj. Jill Gorab, the detachment commander of McChord operations at March ARB. “Down here [at March] we’re doing anywhere from two to four launches a day.”

In addition to the flights from March to meet worldwide operational demands, three shuttle flights a week fly out of Gray Army Airfield on Lewis Main to March ARB. They transport passengers, including air crews (consisting of pilots and loadmasters), and cargo containing supplies for operation support at March, including units from 62nd Operations Group, the 62nd Maintenance Group (MXG), and the 627th Air Base Group (ABG).

“Without the hand-selected aerial port and maintenance teams at March directly executing the mission, flying operations would cease and missions would be greatly impacted,” said Chief Master Sgt. John Lipsey, 62nd MXG superintendent. “The planning effort on the front end of McChord’s runway closure has paid dividends to the team’s success while leading critical operations away from home-station.  Kudos to all involved, especially the folks on the front lines making it all happen!”

Of the approximately 270 steady-state Airmen on the front lines at March, with some fluctuation based on missions and shuttle movement, about 200 are 62nd MXG personnel who maintain the aircraft on a daily basis.

Also operating out of March are 627th ABG Airmen helping to support base operations and reduce the burden of an influx of nearly 300 Airmen on units permanently stationed at March ARB.

“Our force support personnel [627th ABG] are working the gym so we’re able to extend the normal hours to better accommodate shift workers,” said Capt. Charlene Kabuanseya, 627th ABG officer in charge at March ARB.

In addition to the services that help Airmen maintain resiliency, ABG Airmen are also aiding in the safety and security of geographically separated operations at March. Airmen from the 627th Security Forces Squadron (SFS) are augmenting March’s 452nd SFS, helping to man the gate, secure the flightline, and, during unit training assembly, commonly referred to as UTA, weekends when the base population increases with Air Force Reservists, open more gates.

Security forces units from both March and McChord integrating is an example of what is happening on a broader scale at March, even before the flightline closure. This synergy has built seamless teams of Airmen (military and civilian) that made the transition a success.

Planning and teamwork was critical, without that planning piece none of the supplies and setup that we needed would’ve gotten here, said Kabuanseya. “We’ve been able to continue our mission and get the support and help that we need from March. It’s been a learning experience, but we’ve made it work. We always make it happen … that’s just how the Air Force operates.”

While the cultures of a reserve base and an active-duty joint base may vary, Airmen have worked together to achieve the mission.

“Being able to fit in like a plug, along with all the other airfield operations that go on here is due to the effort of both McChord and March Airmen,” said Chief Master Sgt. Will Palmer, chief enlisted manager for operations at March ARB. “That’s important.”

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