563rd OSS AFE wins Headquarters Air Force award

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacob T. Stephens
  • 355th Wing Public Affairs

Innovation. Teamwork. Leadership. Respect. These values are emphasized by senior leaders of the Air Force and the Department of Defense as they continue to build a more lethal, ready force for tomorrow’s fight.

These qualities are all embodied by the 563rd Operations Support Squadron Aircrew Flight Equipment section, who was just named the Headquarters Air Force Outstanding AFE Small Program of the Year.

“It isn’t easy to support the rescue mission how we do because we are busy all the time,” said Senior Airman Brian Ramirez, 563rd OSS AFE troop. “We don’t have room for error in what we do. AFE has the slogan, ‘Last to let you down’, and we have to make sure that everything is spot on because if we mess up, not only do the rescue guys not get to complete their mission, but it puts more people in danger.”

The 563rd OSS AFE has several smaller elements to help support the variety of missions that the 563rd Rescue Group hosts, to include five operational squadrons and two different airframes.

“Our overall mission is to enable combat rescue forces by supplying the Airmen essential gear for any situation,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Hilary Wallace, 55th Rescue Squadron AFE section non-commissioned officer in charge. “We are constantly training, quality checking and trying to improve ourselves and processes as much as we are able. Our equipment supports aviators on their worst days, so we have to be very precise and meticulous with everything that we do to ensure their safety.”

The team led the Air Force in many ways by continuing to train new tactics and procedures and better the ones already in place. This included supporting a President-directed immediate response force, multiple high-level training events and deployments, correcting parachute deficits, rotary-wing aircraft issues and other shortfalls across the rescue group.

“We train to be real-world ready every day,” Wallace said. “We collaborate across sections within the flight, train each other and count on each other for support as we continue to think ahead, identify problems and get after the mission. We work really well as a team and that keeps us ready to go.”

Readiness is a key aspect in the National Defense Strategy and is fueled by innovation and progression. As highlighted in the continual development of the team, the 563rd OSS AFE is getting after readiness to ensure the nation’s ability to deter and defeat any near-peer adversary that may arise.

“Our team was hand-chosen by the major command to execute tip of the spear type projects, which shows the capabilities and excellence of our team,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Marcus Kelley, 563rd OSS AFE superintendent.  “We have an incredible team that adapted to changes and cross-flowed between rotary and fix-winged aircraft, making us more flexible and ready for situations we face downrange. It continues to amaze me how this team continues moving forward and going above and beyond. We have a no-fail mission and a team that continues to never fail.”

This unit exemplifies U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.’s initiative to Accelerate Change or Lose. They do this by adapting to this new way forward and continuing to build a culture of innovation, teamwork, leadership and respect; this team is leading the way in how the Air Force is preparing for tomorrow’s fight by keeping rescue forces ready.