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104th Fighter Wing Maintainer of the Year protects U.S. air space in northeast

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Julie Avey
  • 104th Fighter Wing
As the call is received crews scramble to the hangar, check lists procedures are under way, and moments later the F-15 Eagle aircraft takes off to secure the skies over our homeland.

Any day or night of the week alert operations can arise and crews will rush out, leaving a gust of wind in the halls of the alert facility at Barnes Air National Guard Base, where they were on duty preparing for the important call. Staff Sgt. Trevor Tompkins is an Alert Crew Chief who is an integral part of the alert mission at the 104th Fighter Wing, selected as the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region First Air Force Aerospace Control Alert Maintainer of the Year.

"Tompkins readily takes on any task assigned to him while displaying a level of initiative, drive, and responsibility that is greater than the position he holds," said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Roy of the 104th Fighter Wing.

Tompkins was selected as the best maintainer of 16 Air Control Alert units.

"These winners competed against nominees from across the entire enterprise, so the competition was extremely tough," said Lt. Gen. William H. Etter, 1st Air Force (Air Force North) and Commander Continental North American Aerospace Defense Command Region.

"It was my team and leaders who helped me," said Tompkins when asked about the award. "I am very proud to serve in the 104th and it felt good to share it with my Dad who is in aircraft maintenance in the Massachusetts Army Guard Aviation on base. My Dad shared that he is proud of me and it meant a lot."
Roy said Tompkins superior workmanship and attention to detail led to a 98.5% pass rate on 67 inspections for the maintenance standardization and evaluation program. With his keen attention to detail he accomplished zero discrepancies conducive to a mission ready rating.

"He is a highly engaged safety officer," said Roy. Tompkins has increased efficiencies in repairing, reducing ACA downtime, finding an out of limits hydraulic pump is one of the many examples."

Tompkins is on immediate response to launch aircraft for the alert mission. As an Alert Crew Chief he is responsible for ensuring aircraft are ready to fly at a moment's notice. He is part of a team of Airmen tasked with responding 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to protect U.S. Airspace.

"I am proud to serve as an alert crew chief on such an important mission," said Tompkins. "We never have the mindset of it's just another day at the office as we never know when the call may come in to protect the East Coast."

Tompkins described what it is like to be a part of the team "When we respond we have an A man and a B man working on the aircraft. We communicate and accomplish preflight checks together calling out when we take out the pin, when we check the tire pressure, and move to the forward and aft inspections. It's amazing how in sync we are much like synchronized swimming. It is really nice to know someone else has your back."

"You also visually show each other what you are doing. That's how you know you are doing each step safely and correctly. You can't get your job done right if your Wingman is not on the same page."

Tompkins often volunteers to serve additional hours to support unit deployments as they return and has served with Canadian Forces in support of a joint exercise at a Canadian forward operating location.

"The leadership here allows me to succeed by teaching me and I am able to come in and do my part on the mission," said Tompkins. "Chief Roy mentors us and encourages us to continue to strive to improve ourselves."

Tompkins significant self-improvements include 65 hours of private pilot training as he plans ahead for future opportunities. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Aviation Management.

Outside of his official duties he volunteers at a local school mentoring in classrooms, referees basketball summer classic tournaments in his community, and helps with family sporting events.

"Tompkins can regularly be found sacrificing off duty time to be involved with unit and community events such as kid's Christmas parties and as an anchor of the physical fitness program assisting other unit members with assessments," said Roy.

The 104th was named the Air Control Alert Unit of the Year by the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region 1st Air Force. A component of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Continental United States (CONUS).

"Staff Sgt. Tompkins' performance as part of this team was a direct contributor to the 104th Air Control Alert unit garnering the First Air Force Aerospace Control Alert Unit of the Year Award," said Roy. "Staff Sgt. Tompkins selection as the First Air Force Aerospace Control Alert Maintainer of the Year is a reflection to the high quality maintenance personnel that are assigned to the 104 ACA team."