Military Feature: Airman repairs wings of war

Senior Airman Chris Redman, a metals technician with the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron , cuts a piece of diamond-plated steel with a plasma cutter. Air Force photo: SrA Kerry Solan-Johnson

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

A Cannon airman said good-bye to his new wife in September and departed for Iraq to repair wings of war.

Senior Airman Chris Redman is stationed at Balad Air Base in Iraq and is part of a five-man team of metal technicians assigned to the 332nd Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, according to a news release from the squadron’s public affairs office.

Redman and his crew spend their time welding, heat-treating, fabricating and assembling metal components to support the missions of a variety of aerial warriors.

The scope of their work includes supporting multi-force aircraft such as C-17s, Predators, F-16s and Army choppers. Other units needing metal work also seek out the team’s skills for a multitude of jobs, the release said.

“The jet-based work is some of the most important work we have,” said Redman, 26, who is from Old Lyme, Conn. “When a jet has to get off the ground, it has to get off the ground.”

Often the metal workers in Redman’s unit improvise to fabricate parts that would otherwise have to be ordered, the release said.

Redman’s wife, Senior Airman Heather Redman, is a photographer at Cannon and is awaiting his return in January.

She said her husband, who she talks to in Iraq a couple times a week, maintains his is “the best job in the Air Force.”

Her husband of three months loves welding and metal work, she said. He often spends his free time on the weekends in the metal shop fixing gears and welding things, she said.

“He can do just about anything — work on just about anything,” she said.

Being a dual active-duty military couple is hard sometimes, but still a life they enjoy, the 23-year-old Colorado native said.

The couple are considering long-term careers with the Air Force
When her husband returns, she will face her own deployment.

“We’re on different rotation cycles, so by the time he gets home, I’ll probably be shipping out. But I enjoy (the Air Force),” she said.

Senior Airman Kerry Solan-Johnson of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, public affairs office, contributed to this report.