Equipping Air Commandos

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ryan Williams, 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron material management flight, collects expired individual first aid kits that were removed from several mobility bags at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 17, 2012. The material management flight stocks and issues 26,000 line items of supplies and equipment, including mobility bags and weapons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Eboni Reece)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Ryan Williams, 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron material management flight, collects expired individual first aid kits that were removed from several mobility bags at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 17, 2012. The material management flight stocks and issues 26,000 line items of supplies and equipment, including mobility bags and weapons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Eboni Reece)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Levi Mannan, 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron material management flight, varifies inventory for thousands of weapons at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 17, 2012. The material management flight stocks and issues 26,000 line items of supplies and equipment, including mobility bags and weapons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Eboni Reece)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Levi Mannan, 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron material management flight, varifies inventory for thousands of weapons at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 17, 2012. The material management flight stocks and issues 26,000 line items of supplies and equipment, including mobility bags and weapons. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Eboni Reece)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Santos Delacruz, 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron material management flight, holds a mess kit at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 18, 2012. The need for mess kits to serve military rations is no longer necessary, as they were replaced by Meals, Ready to Eat. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Eboni Reece)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Santos Delacruz, 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron material management flight, holds a mess kit at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., July 18, 2012. The need for mess kits to serve military rations is no longer necessary, as they were replaced by Meals, Ready to Eat. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Eboni Reece)

CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Members of the 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron's individual protective equipment element are charged with the responsibility of inventorying, issuing and chronicling the history of each item that enters their possession.

"Every Airman at Cannon is required to have a gas mask," said Senior Airman Hayden Shannon, IPEE journeyman. "We usually have 20 to 40 personnel come through the shop to either be issued or return masks each day. As a result of this interactive environment, our records must be impeccable."

Up-to-the-minute records are maintained by IPEE Airmen both online and in hard-copy format. Each item has a unique number which allows it to be tracked from owner to owner for as long as it remains in use.

"We can search a kit number and bring up all the information that pertains to it," Shannon said. "We know who has it, what size it is, the date it was issued and whether it has been returned. At $500 a mask, it's very important to keep tabs on each one."

When a mask is returned, it is crucial to identify any weaknesses that could potentially expose the wearer to harmful elements in the event of a contingency.

"Before a mask is reissued we run a leakage test on it," Shannon said. "During the test, the machine attempts to expand the mask, filling it with air so that an improper seal would be exposed. If the mask passes, it is deemed serviceable and put in storage until the next person checks it out."

Though all of America's men and women in uniform have pledged their lives to support and defend, the task of ensuring service members are adequately equipped to overcome the obstacles that await them rest squarely on the shoulders of IPEE Airmen.

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