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Munitions NCO brings home new skills from Iraq

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Adam Crown
  • 43rd AG PAO
Supplying four squadrons of F-16 Fighting Falcons, AC-130 gunships, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles with the munitions necessary to meet mission requirements can be a difficult task for any Airman.

Tech. Sgt. James Poirrier, 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, met the high demand for munitions requests as the noncommissioned officer in charge of munitions control. He was responsible for shipping, receiving, storing, delivering, inspecting and building the ammunition that supplied the war-fighting aircraft at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

"Our job is to make sure that when the munitions are loaded onto the aircraft, they function as they are designed to," said Sergeant Poirrier. "We do everything but load the bombs onto the plane and drop them on target."

As the leader of his shop, it was his job to ensure the armament loaded onto an aircraft function properly and have the correct payload.

According to Sergeant Poirrier, his work has a significant impact on the servicemembers serving down range. If a delivery is incorrect or late, troops in combat on the ground could be put in jeopardy.

"If an aircraft doesn't meet its mission because it can't get munitions, and Soldiers don't get the air support they need because the bombs never came, our people could be killed," said Sergeant Poirrier. "Our mission is much more involved and strenuous in a deployed environment. When you're getting mortars and rockets shot at you from across the fence, it just adds to the stress level."

Poirrier's deployment also added a new challenge for him. This was the first time he was in charge of the munitions shop. It was also the first time he was responsible for the movement of all the Air Force munitions on base.

"When you are dealing with requests on the radio calling for munitions and coordinating with all the different agencies, it becomes pretty strenuous," said Sergeant Poirrier. "You have to be 100 percent committed to your job or you'll fall apart."

Poirrier said he also had the opportunity to work with top-notch Airmen, which was evident during a mishap involving an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

"The F-16 caught fire during takeoff," said Sergeant Poirrier. "Everything that happened was like clockwork. We did everything we needed to do. There is no doubt in my mind that our knowledge of explosives saved peoples' lives. We have a good core of people. We lean on each other out there and trust each other to do the job."

Sergeant Poirrier added that being prepared for the change in environment was the key to his success. Each day during a deployment can bring different challenges and you have to be flexible said Poirrier.

Sergeant Poirrier's dedication to the mission in Iraq didn't go unnoticed by his leadership at Pope. According to his flight chief, Master Sgt. William Meador, 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron munitions flight chief, the leadership skills Poirrier gained down range are invaluable to him here as part of Team Pope.

"Sergeant Poirrier exemplifies what it is to be an Air Force leader. Equally committed to his job, his Family, and the community," said Sergeant Meador.