ANG units train in advanced heavy truck maintenance, repair

Air National Guard truck training
Air brake systems instructor Jim Bainer, red shirt, directs Airman 1st Class Mason Heimkes, of the 119th Logistics Readiness Squadron, as he provides instruction for Air National Guard students in the ‘lab’ training at Minnesota State Community College, Moorhead, Minn., July 22, 2021.

Thirteen students from six Air National Guard units in five states attended an advanced truck air brake system course hosted by the 119th Wing Logistics Readiness Squadron and taught through a joint project at Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M State) in Moorhead, Minn., in July.

The 37.5-hour course focused on the pneumatic and electrical air brake straight truck and tractor-trailer systems and applications to provide a firm understanding of brakes and wheel ends. The course is worth two college academic credits that can be applied toward the students’ Community College of the Air Force (CCAF) degree.

“This is the culmination of a two-year process to research, plan, coordinate and approve the joint education efforts with us, M State and the National Guard Bureau,” says Chief Master Sgt. Steve Koenig, the 119th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance superintendent.

Areas of emphasis included air brake operation, pneumatics, valve operation, component identification, schematics and antilock systems in various types of trucks the students encounter in their military and civilian careers.

“It’s a challenge for Air National Guard mechanics to keep up with technology. The opportunity to work with M State in this training is important for the work we do to keep our equipment running on base and for our people to help them get their CCAF degrees for promotion,” said Koenig.

The course is built with two hours of hands-on lab in a modern repair shop environment for every one-hour of lecture in the classroom.

“It’s been fun. I haven’t been called sir this much in my whole life. I think they are the ones that have earned being called sir, through their military service, rather than me,” says Jim Bainer, the course instructor and transportation department chair at the college.

The lab features a high-tech schematic air brake simulator that would be very expensive for any Air National Guard unit to provide through means other than something like the arrangement with M State, according to an announcement.

Many ANG members in the vehicle maintenance career fields work as full-time civilian technicians in addition to their traditional drill-status military role.

“What they are learning here can be applied to their jobs in both their military role and also their civilian world jobs as mechanics,” says Matthew Loeslie, the dean of the school of applied technology at M State.

Every ANG base and military installation has some inventory of trucks and heavy equipment with brakes that need to be maintained and repaired by vehicle maintenance personnel. The 119th Wing has nearly 40 different vehicles with air brake systems on them. They include things like snow removal equipment and rapid runway repair training trucks and equipment.

“While our people get good training in their tech schools and throughout their careers, the M State facility provides us training equipment and knowledge that can really help build on that and help our people better understand the concepts and techniques involved in the maintenance and repair of equipment we operate on a day-to-day basis,” says Koenig.

“We’re excited about developing this relationship. It’s right in the core of what we do and who we are, and we love to serve those who serve us,” Loeslie says.

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