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Face of Defense: Airman Earns Top Maintenance Award

By Kevin Gaddie
Eglin Air Force Base Public Affairs

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., March 30, 2012 – Air Force Senior Airman Alexander Blench, an avionics specialist with the 46th Maintenance Squadron here, recently earned the 2011 Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez award in the technical category.

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Senior Airman Alexander Blench, an avionics specialist with the 46th Maintenance Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., performs modifications to improve reliability of inlet ramp scheduling on the F-15 E model. Blench recently won the 2011 Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez award for maintenance excellence in the technical category. U.S. Air Force photo by Kevin Gaddie

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

The award recognizes Blench's excellence in aircraft technical maintenance.

Receiving the award is "mind-blowing," Blench said.

"I honestly wasn't expecting it to go to the Air Force level," he said. "The award is a result of a team effort. I could not have done this by myself. This award is a direct result of the knowledge passed on to me by my supervisor, Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Hensley."

Blench enlisted in the Air Force in January 2008 and has been stationed here since November 2010. He works on the F-15 C and E models.

"I specialize on electronic warfare and countermeasure systems," the Escondido, Calif., native said. "I do all kinds of work on the aircraft, to include wiring, flight controls, environmental systems, munitions guidance systems and video lines."

According to his awards package, Blench isolated a countermeasure failure, rectified a faulty radar elevation discrepancy, and replaced a defective computer to solve a flight control failure. His efforts contributed to the successful completion of several F-15 test missions.

Blench described himself as a hands-on type of person.

"I love taking things apart and rebuilding them," he said. "This career field gives me an opportunity to do what I like to do. When I'm put on a job that takes four to five days to figure out what the problem is, and tear the jet apart, it's enjoyable for me."

Blench said he began his mechanical experience as a kid working in his father's machine shop.

"I've always been in that kind of environment," he said. "Just before I joined the Air Force, I refurbished helicopter engines -- tearing apart the linings and re-welding them, looking for cracks, things like that."

Blench said he plans to make the Air Force a career.

"I would like to press through the ranks to a position of leadership, and make life better for airmen coming up behind me," he said.


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