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Alaska Guardsman Helps Keep Pave Hawks Flying

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Renee Seruntine,
  • 102d Public Affairs Detachment

GULFPORT, Miss. - Incredibly motivated and ready at a moment’s notice, U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Natalie Glass was the perfect candidate to be the HH-60 Pave Hawk assistant dedicated crew chief assigned to the 176th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 176th Wing, Alaska Air National Guard.

Glass moved to Alaska over 10 years ago from Oregon when her best friend mentioned she should go up north to see the midnight sun. She packed up, got in her car and drove through Canada for a week. Once she got to Denali National Park, she fell in love with the wilderness. She spent the summer there working at a kitchen and decided she wasn’t going to leave.

She found a small cabin in Denali with no running water and lived there for eight years, hauling her own water and driving two hours to the grocery store. Glass worked as a special education teacher during the winters and at a nonprofit organization during the summers.

“It was a really great experience and built some character, having to be responsible for my own survival, especially during the arctic winters when it’s dark all day and all night, no sunrise,” said Glass. “It really tests your abilities to maintain happiness and health, making sure you’re still talking to people. So I look back and I’m very proud and happy that I did that, but eventually I got burned out and wanted to do something different.”

Glass moved on to her next adventure, joining the Air National Guard as a Pave Hawk crew chief with the 176th AMXS.

“I’m a crew chief, which means that in the morning, I hit the ground running,” said Glass. “I’m responsible for making sure the aircraft is ready to fly. If any problems arise, I’m there to troubleshoot any maintenance problems. We do preflight checks every three days, and it’s all in support of a local mission that we do in Alaska for search and rescue missions, which is incredible to be a part of because we get to help Alaskans.”

She has been a full-time crew chief with her unit for five years.

“The 176th AMXS has six tails, which we maintain and fly,” said Glass. “We are the busiest unit in all of the Air Force. We have the most flying hours, the most search and rescues and are the only unit that is a 24/7, 365-days-a-year unit.”

An individual is assigned as an assistant dedicated crew chief based on their upgrade training, knowledge of the aircraft and experience on the flight line. ADCCs must be aware of their assigned aircraft’s upcoming maintenance, communicate with supervisors and specialists, be the go-to person for any questions from the aircrew and, most importantly, mentor new crew chiefs. Glass, the ADCC to Pave Hawk #6881, is honored to have her name stamped on the aircraft.

“We don’t take it very lightly to put someone’s name on the aircraft,” said Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin McCulloch, lead production superintendent with the 176 AMXS. “If we put your name on it, I expect you to know what’s going on with your aircraft, what do I need to know, any maintenance going on and is your aircraft ready for missions.”

McCulloch said Glass is willing to undertake any job, “and any task I give her, I know it’s going to be from cradle to grave exactly what I’m looking for and what the unit needs.”

Glass’s dedication to her helicopter, unit and country fuels her through every mission.

“I’m a true patriot, so I love the idea that we are born with inherent rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and I’m willing to put my life on the line for that,” said Glass. “I’m proud and thankful to have been born in this country, and this is my way of giving back to something I feel so thankful to be a part of, and working with the Alaska Air National Guard search and rescue missions has allowed me to serve my community in the way I want to.”