Today's Military:

Saul Mendoza

Staff Sgt. Saul Mendoza: My name is Staff Sgt. Mendoza. I’m a propulsion technician here at the 146th Airlift Wing.

Here we are on the flight line. I’m going to show you a little bit of what I do on a day-to-day basis. These are called C-130J’s. We’ve got eight of them. And as an aircraft propulsion technician, I work on any one that has engine problems.

This is called a compressor wash. We have to do it right before major inspection. The aircraft’s going to be inside the hangar for a while. The compressor wash is pretty much corrosion control. So, it’s pretty basic. It takes five of us, all of the engine shop troops.

The inspection is, it’s a huge part of our job as an engine shop mechanic. And every so often, we take the planes inside the hangar, and we completely, like, gut the whole airplane. The first time you do it, I mean, you learn a lot. It’s like, you’re taking apart something you’ve never seen before in your entire life, and we catch stuff that you just don’t see out here. It’s like a fine-tooth comb inspection.

When they’re here, everything’s training, you know, like, all of these hours we spend here on this flight line, fixing these airplanes. But in Afghanistan, it’s different. People need their equipment. You know, the Hummers we fly around, the paratroopers. This is what I’ve been training for. If I don’t do my job, and I don’t fix my plane, they don’t get their trucks. And you can see where, like, one problem would lead to another.

So, when I fix that plane, and I watch that plane take off, that gives me that sense of accomplishment, like, “This is why I’m here. This is why I do the things that I do.” All of those hours I spend here, you know, it all pays off when I’m in Afghanistan, and someone comes up to me and thanks me. You know, “We got our live ammo drop in the heat of combat that you guys dropped.” That gives me the feeling, like, just a great feeling of accomplishment.

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