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Smoke doesn't always mean fire Part I

Silence Broken

The following was submitted to the 20 Years Done Facebook page anonymously. I have mainly edited it for formatting, but otherwise this is the straight from the field information that leaders bemoan they are unable to receive.

Today there was an incident... the suicide of a maintainer (a crew chief). Although I did not know the individual, my husband did on a couple jobs. It hit different... harder... too close to home. In the past, numerous attempts have been made to turn the base around from the mentality of "this is how we've always done it" or "we're unique from other bases." 

I was a fighter and prevented recreational maintenance from occurring. I have been threatened with escalating a matter (doing the right thing) to the Group Commander on different occasions. I have been called lazy from civilian agencies when instructing my young NCO's not to sign off a specific job that would cost the lives of pilots. 

On another matter, crew chiefs from different airframes would personally call my office and ask "why does this base work this way?" My response was always to fight as long as they could based on their ethics and refrain from saying "yes" to something that isn't in accordance with technical manuals.

I AM FUCKING DONE (and I'm not even a crew chief but I have fought off leadership countless times with no success).

Leadership at ALL levels have failed this individual and it angers me and other maintainers, their families and friends. I want to be their voice, but it's very difficult for me to express because my passion for the job gets in the way. We just want to be heard, we are one voice. The typical "do more with less" or "embrace the suck" and "you signed up for this."


This individual took the time to form a partnership with other AFSCs such as aircraft engine mechanics and nobody noticed. Nobody bothered to ask about HIM in general, his well-being! 

What happened? It doesn't matter because those that were striving for rank in their future, they got it--effortlessly mind you. 

This individual needed to take leave due to a family emergency and nobody cared or noticed. Leadership approved the leave with limitations because a Goddamn exercise was more important than his family, and leadership still didn't seem to appreciate what was going on. Leadership simply continued with normal operations, no extra effort for this individual.

Finally there was an escape, he was able to breathe for a little bit because he PCA'd to phase. However, something happened that pushed him to do the unthinkable. He made the decision to leave this world even with the small positive differences he was making with other maintainers, differences that nobody in his leadership fucking NOTICED. If my husband remembers him, it means this individual cared and looked after his people; while at the same time those charged with caring for him turned a blind eye and ignored all the warning signs.

How do we even follow our own leadership if they keep preaching "we are here for you" without showing us? We don't believe them anymore! In my mind I'm thinking "What the fuck! More can be done. More has to be attempted!" 

In the end, Ops Group and leadership from both sides are at fault, and if they don't take accountability they have to ask themselves: "What are we teaching to other leaders?"

They failed him, but we all failed him as his military family. Where do we begin to stop it if they are not listening to us? We are lost and need some guidance.

Leadership at all levels: Stop acting surprised as if nothing could have been done because in the end, YOU were the problem and never listened to seasoned NCOs speaking out for those who had a smaller voice.

Those with the courage to speak up were trying to catch your attention, however you were seduced by promotion or the lure of a new duty title. You prioritized your own wants over the people you were charged with, who were burned out and begging for help.

I will leave you with this final warning: Buyer beware

The old heads are filtering out, leaving you with the inexperienced that YOU solely promoted based on corporate-like standards (who you know is more important than what you know). It's a damn shame, and it's even worse that there is no accountability.


Once more for everyone in the maintenance field: I. AM. DONE.

One final question for those who were promoted at an accelerated rate: Was it worth it? Let me know in 5 years when you have lost massive amounts of experience and don't have the ability to persevere. WAS IT WORTH IT?

If anyone else wants to share their frustrations or tell a story that is being ignored, please message me on the Facebook page and I will review and post if appropriate. It can be as anonymous as you want, however I will not post accusations against specific names unless there is clear and convincing evidence (I prefer not to be sued for defamation after all).


  1. Its crazy because we recently had a situation happen at dyess that was very similar to this. It could be the same incident but the crazy part is that it could be literally any base that this happened at. Keep it up 20 and done.


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