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Maintenance apprentice sees big picture, gets job done

Staff Sgt. Guadalupe Mozart Retana, an aerospace ground equipment apprentice with the 161st Maintenance Group, tightens bolts to secure a diesel engine onto a B809-0108 generator, Oct. 4, at Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base.  The B809-0108 generator powers aircraft while on the flight line. Generator power conserves valuable fuel for mission use. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin)

Staff Sgt. Guadalupe Mozart Retana, an aerospace ground equipment apprentice with the 161st Maintenance Group, tightens bolts to secure a diesel engine onto a B809-0108 generator, Oct. 4, at Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base. The B809-0108 generator powers aircraft while on the flight line. Generator power conserves valuable fuel for mission use. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Michael Matkin)

PHOENIX -- For every aircraft that transits through an Air Force base or airport, there are Airmen and civilians responsible for it and the equipment used to service it.

Staff Sgt. Guadalupe Mozart Retana is one of these Airmen. The 161st Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment apprentice was recently accepted to the Federal Aviation Administration Academy to study air traffic control. He said both jobs require multi-tasking and the ability to see the big picture.

Aerospace ground equipment maintenance technicians ensure equipment used to service aircraft, such as generators, are operating correctly and safely. They make sure inspections and preventative maintenance are done in an orderly and expeditious timetable.

Air traffic controllers are responsible for the separation and movement of aircraft departing, landing, and maneuvering through airspace and airports. They ensure aircraft, passengers and cargo safely arrive at their destinations.

"In both jobs I need to make sure everything is being tended to," said Retana. "Part of my job is to make sure I'm not just focusing on one thing. I need to be able to take a step back and look at everything as a whole - making sure parts are ordered and making sure my additional duties are completed. I might tend to one thing at a time, such as inspecting fluids, but I still have to make sure everything is covered throughout the day."

Air traffic controllers are responsible for safety. Likewise, the future controller is responsible for his fellow Airmen as the shop's safety monitor. He instructs Guardsmen about safety incidents that may have occurred on base between drills, this way they can avoid repeating mishaps. He also trains them on the proper use of personal protective equipment.

As an AGE apprentice, Retana learns new skills and learns to adapt to new situations - abilities that will better prepare him for entering the FAA Academy.

"AGE is a new career for me, so learning the technical orders can be challenging; however, I just need to look to the experienced people who have been here for a while," said Retana. "I just have to be a sponge and soak in their guidance and what they have to offer."

He said another similarity between the jobs is the need to work as a team.

"Before we start a project or maintenance task, we get on the same page," said Retana. "No matter where you work, you are usually a part of a team. It is important to work together, otherwise you're working against each other."