Trio of maintenance workers earn Leo Marquez Award

ROBINS AFB, Ga. -- The 402nd Maintenance Wing and the 653rd Combat Logistics Support Squadron have the tools to get their jobs done right.

Three individuals from the organizations were named as winners of Air Force Materiel Command's 2006 Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award.

Brent Inman, director of the 568th Elec-tronics Main-tenance Squadron, was recently named as the award's Outstanding Civilian Manager of the Year. Master Sgt. Rick Fuji-moto, a C-130 element chief in the 653rd CLSS, earned the award's technician supervision category prize. Staff Sgt. Edgar Torres, a structural maintenance journeyman in the 653rd CLSS, won in the award's technician category.

The award winners will represent AFMC at the Air Force-level in the future.

Mr. Inman said the award, a first for the squadron director, is the most recognized award in the maintenance community throughout the Air Force. It evaluates job performance, efficiency and knowledge, and also looks at contributions made to the Air Force at large, the community and self improvement.

During his time, Mr. Inman led a 350-person team to achieve outstanding results, using more than 40 different Lean events. Mr. Inman led the Fighter Avionics Squadron in producing a record 22,656 units in fiscal 2005, while reducing 'work-in-process' by 34 percent, reduced shop flow days by 38 percent, and cut backorders by 50 percent.

In addition, Mr. Inman implemented programs that reduced labor grievances by 66 percent and eliminated Equal Opportunity complaints.

While the senior-level leader has numerous achievements under his career belt, he said the credit for the accomplishments goes to his people.

"Certainly, I am the director of the 350-person organization that I'm assigned to," he said. "My view is that I provide an environment for my technicians to do the great things they do. I tell them time and again, all of my flight chiefs, first-line supervisors and the technicians, the absolute only reason why Maj. Gen. Tom Owen has a job, Brig. Gen. Andrew Busch has a job, the only reason Col. Dennis Daley and Brent Inman have jobs is to support them, and I think we lose sight of that a lot. We lose sight of the fact that the only reason we all have jobs is, simply put, to support our war- fighters."

His fellow award winners agreed team work is at the heart of their achievements.
Sergeant Fujimoto said he credits his recognition to a combination of good supervisors and numerous deployments.

"I've been very fortunate," he said. "I've been on a lot of TDYs (temporary duty assignments) this year. As part of our squadron, we're always deployed, and I've been on the road probably 200 days this year."

The 39-year-old Hawaii native said one of his biggest deployments took place in February 2006 and involved the repair of the Iraqi Comp Air 7, an aircraft that had crashed, killing several people.

Sergeant Fujimoto said his work with New York's 109th Air National Guard unit at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, that helped sustain the National Science Foundation's Operation Deep Freeze with more than 1.8 million pounds of winter supplies at the South Pole station was a huge undertaking as well.

Sergeant Fujimoto said he feels fortunate to earn the prestigious honor.

"I won the AFMC Support Crew Chief of the Year award in 2002," he said. "I thought that was great, but this is even better."

Sergeant Torres said 2006 was marked by many aircraft repairs throughout the Air Force as well. But the 25-year-old Texas native never thought they'd lead to such an achievement.

"We stay really busy in the squadron," he said. "I didn't think anything about doing the jobs I had been doing and I guess they slowly started accumulating. By the time I realized it, I had so many TDYs that I had went on. I didn't realize they were major jobs."

A personal visit from the 653rd CLSS commander, Maj. Paul Kanning, in the sergeant's work center gave him a clue though.

"I was shocked," he said. "I didn't believe it the first time. I thought I was nominated for it, but I didn't think I had actually gotten the award."

At the time of the good news, Sergeant Torres was lined up to leave active-duty Feb. 12 and become an Air Force reservist. Now, he is set to re-enlist Jan. 22.
Maj. Kanning said his squadron's award winners are true stars in his book.

"In the aircraft maintenance community, the Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Award is like our version of the Academy Awards," he said. "It's the number one award and that is the award that tells everybody across Air Force Materiel Command who's the best of the best. They're competing only against aircraft maintenance folks and these two individuals are our Academy Award winners."