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Reservist talks ‘maintainer’s dream’

  • Published
  • By Bryan Magaña
  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Staff Sgt. Aaron Ramirez, 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, is an aircraft armament systems team chief, better known as a weapons loader. At 25, he’s wrapping up a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, raising a family, and working on the Air Force’s newest fighter jet, the F-35 Lightning II. I recently talked to Ramirez about his role in the 419th Fighter Wing and what it’s like to work on the F-35.


Tell me about your job.


My job as an F-35 weapons loader is to load precision-guided munitions, including missiles and bombs, on the aircraft. I also maintain and install weapon systems on the aircraft and ensure they’re operational and ready for use at a moment's notice. Also, as an Air Reserve Technician, I am entrusted with training reservists to effectively perform those same duties safely and proficiently.


What’s it like working on the F-35?


Having worked multiple legacy aircraft, working on the new F-35 is a maintainer’s dream. The capabilities of the jet are astronomical, and the newly updated technology is maintainer-friendly. The aircraft can pinpoint which exact systems are non-functional and provides the maintainer with a series of corrective actions to fix the problem. The aircraft minimizes the risk of human error and reduces man-hours.


Describe your journey to joining the military.


I grew up in El Paso, Texas, and joined the military after following in the footsteps of my father, who recently retired from the U.S. Army. I served three and a half years active duty, then transferred to the Air Force Reserve. I was a traditional reservist at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, and enrolled full time at my local university. I saw an opportunity to take on a full-time position as an Air Reserve Technician here at Hill AFB and I applied for the job. A few months later, I found myself driving through Hill’s gate.


What’s so appealing about the Air Force Reserve?


The best part about serving in the Air Force Reserve is that it allows me to focus on my family and personal goals. In addition, it allows me to travel the world, gain valuable training, and most importantly, serve my country.


Who are you outside of work?


Some of my hobbies include shooting guns, working on my sports car, and weightlifting – because nothing sounds better than a pair of 45s slapping together. I have a wonderful, supportive girlfriend and two beautiful children, Lorenzo and Rosalie.