Cannon behind the scenes: Airmen bear arms

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tara Robinson, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, cleans a weapon in the armament shop at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 14, 2012. Armament troops handle disassembling, cleaning, lubing and inspecting weaponry for their assigned aircraft at Cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tara Robinson, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, cleans a weapon in the armament shop at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 14, 2012. Armament troops handle disassembling, cleaning, lubing and inspecting weaponry for their assigned aircraft at Cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brad Smith, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, works with several weapon components in the armament shop at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 14, 2012. Armament troops handle disassembling, cleaning, lubing and inspecting weaponry for their assigned aircraft at Cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Brad Smith, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, works with several weapon components in the armament shop at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 14, 2012. Armament troops handle disassembling, cleaning, lubing and inspecting weaponry for their assigned aircraft at Cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ricky Franklin, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, rips small cloth squares used to clean weapons in the armament shop at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 14, 2012. Armament troops handle disassembling, cleaning, lubing and inspecting weaponry for their assigned aircraft at Cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ricky Franklin, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, rips small cloth squares used to clean weapons in the armament shop at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 14, 2012. Armament troops handle disassembling, cleaning, lubing and inspecting weaponry for their assigned aircraft at Cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

An inspected and cleared weapon is mounted on a CV-22 Osprey on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 5, 2012. Armament troops handle disassembling, cleaning, lubing and inspecting weaponry for their assigned aircraft at Cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

An inspected and cleared weapon is mounted on a CV-22 Osprey on the flightline at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 5, 2012. Armament troops handle disassembling, cleaning, lubing and inspecting weaponry for their assigned aircraft at Cannon. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- *This feature is fifteenth in a series of Air Commando highlights at Cannon.

The work bench is lined with tools and metal components in varying sizes and shapes. There is an acrid smell lingering in the air slowly mixing with the metallic one emanating from the scattered, unassembled pieces on the work station. Squinted eyes inspect a barrel as quick, deliberate hands work over various parts to ensure every inch of the weapon is looked over before being reused.

Troops with the 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron armament shop are charged with disassembling, cleaning, lubing and inspecting weaponry for their assigned aircraft at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., a job that requires close attention to detail and leaves no room for error.

"Lives depend on the work we do here in the shop," said Senior Airman Tara Robinson, 27 SOMXS. "The flight engineers count on us to make sure the weapon is fully functional the next time their aircraft takes off for a mission."

Ensuring functionality for the weapons includes a four-step process. The weapon is first broken down into seven major components. Those parts are then washed in solvent to strip the weapon and remove impurities. Once the weapon is washed, a preserving lubricant is applied to keep parts moving and prevent corrosion. The weapon is then inspected for damage, cracks, dents or any other imperfection that could compromise its overall integrity.

"It isn't about how much time we spend on a particular weapon," said Senior Airman Ricky Franklin, 27 SOMXS. "In the end, we just have to be confident that the weapons we've inspected won't fault in the line-of-action."

This career field is unique in the sense that not many can say they work with guns, bombs and missiles regularly, said Senior Airman Melissa Moreno, 27 SOMXS. There is a significant amount of pride in working so close to specific airframes, she continued.

Working with the weapons is just one aspect of the work the armament shop performs. Airmen in the shop also conduct operation checks with the weaponry, load the ammunition on the assigned aircraft and perform last minute systems checks for crew members.

"It means something to me knowing that my critical eye is essential to flight safety," said Robinson. "There is a very rewarding feeling that goes along with knowing the weapon I inspected will not fail our troops."

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