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Bagram Survival-Equipment Duo Keeps A-10 Pilots Safe

By Staff Sgt. Marcus McDonald, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan, Nov. 3, 2005 – From an initial review to the final inspection, a survival-equipment duo here is helping keep A-10 pilots safe and secure as they fly close-air-support missions as part of the ongoing global war on terrorism.

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Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Topor, a survival equipment supervisor and rigger with the 455th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, assembles an aircrew survival vest at Bagram Air base, Afghanistan. Topor is helping keep A-10 pilots here safe and secure as they fly close-air-support missions. Photo by Capt. James H. Cunningham, USAF
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Whether assembling an anti-gravity suit, parachute or survival vest, Air Force Staff Sgt. Andrew Topor and Senior Airman Adam Hatch, both deployed from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., have a reputation of weaving together excellence.

"If we've done our job correctly, A-10 aircrews can step into the cockpit, conduct their mission and return home safely," said Topor, a survival equipment supervisor and rigger with the 455th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

"We don't get to see if the maintenance we do on the equipment works out or not, and if we do, that means something went wrong," said Topor, a native of Columbus, Ga. "But if something were to happen, knowing that they made it to the ground safely because of the work we do gives us a sense of accomplishment, ... that we saved a life."

Hatch, a survival equipment technician and rigger, said he enjoys doing what he's paid to do and is glad to serve his country during a time of war.

"This job, like any other, is truly what you make of it," said Hatch, a native of Woodsville, N.H. "It's extremely rewarding to know we are a vital part of making a successful mission happen.

"Regardless of how difficult it is at times, it is an honor and a privilege to serve and do my small part to complete the mission and return home safely," Hatch continued. "This is an experience to be proud of and one I will certainly carry with me always."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Marcus McDonald is assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing.)

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Related Sites:
Combined Forces Command Afghanistan
A-10 Thunderbolt II

Click photo for screen-resolution imageAir Force Senior Airman Adam Hatch, a survival equipment technician and rigger, marks a piece of material in preparation for a protective engine cover. Photo by Capt. James H. Cunningham, USAF  
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