373rd TRS, Det. 4: Birthplace of a C-130 crew chief

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Little Rock AFB is known as across the Air Force as "Home of the Herc." One organization that has contributed directly to this honor is the 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 4, and could be called "birthplace of the C-130 crew chief."

"Students first spend 4 months training at Sheppard AFB and then come here for 10 academic days," said Senior Master Sgt. Paul Grau, 373 TRS Det. 4. "They go out to the flightline and gain first-hand experiences to include performing launch and recovery, towing aircraft and experiencing refueling."

The 373rd Training Squadron is projected to train over 690 mission- ready active-duty, reserve and guard Airmen this year alone. In addition to training pipeline crew chiefs, the detachment provides advanced training to local C-130 maintainers as well as providing TDY and international students with specialized training.

The detachment is also a primary provider for J-model maintenance training.

"Most other bases are not set up with J-model qualified instructors," said Capt. Francis Schillinger, 373 TRS Det. 4 commander. "We support other bases be providing support and training to instructors until they are self sufficient"

Of the detachments 48 members, 44 are certified instructors from a variety of maintenance career fields. The instructors are primarily volunteers and have a minimum tour requirement of 48 months with maximum of 60 months.

"The instructors face a big adjustment from the ops tempo of flightline to the classrooms and go through some 'decompression time' during the certification track," said Sergeant Grau. "They get a chance to get their heads thoroughly into the books and come out with a different level of understanding and system knowledge."

One of the major challenges that Det. 4 faces is each international customer who sets foot in their school requires a different form of training.

"Their career fields are structured differently than ours, so they may have a crew chief that does sheet metal work, hydraulic work and certain portions of electrics," said Captain Schillinger. "We have to take what they are requesting and then dissect our curriculum so we are able to give their mechanics the training they need."

The captain cited a visit by Norway as one of the most interesting training experiences for the detachment.

"Their maintainers were officers who had 4-year engineering degrees," said Captain Schillinger. "They were asking some pretty tough questions, but we were able to come through and when they left here they were extremely pleased with the training."

The detachment's superintendent and commander applauded the instructors hard work and dedication

"I hate to lose them at the 4- year mark, but I also know that for the benefit of their career and the Air Force it's better to get them back out there," said Sergeant Grau. "As valuable as they are to us, I know it was hard for the flightline to give them up, but it's a win/win for both, because the better the people they send up here, the better they are when they return."

"One of the things you get from the staff here is that they are proud to be here and love what they do," said Captain Schillinger. "They will all tell you that they have worked to earn their instructor badges."