ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --
Tech. Sgt. Katie Rednour, with the 461st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, knows the gravity of her mission.
As the first female dedicated crew chief responsible for the maintenance of the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, no jet gets off the ground without Rednour’s say so.
It’s a duty Rednour doesn’t take lightly.
“It is an honor to be a dedicated crew chief and to have my name on the jet,” she said. “I always come into work not knowing what to expect. The JSTARS need a lot of TLC and every maintainer working on the line and behind the scenes plays a major role in getting these jets off the ground and flying.”
The Elizabethton, Tenn., native joined the Air Force eight years ago with aspirations of having a career that kept the then 23-year-old Airman on her toes and occasionally in the sky.
“In all honesty, I had no idea what a crew chief was, but I quickly learned,” she said. “After being at my first duty station for a little while, I saw a dedicated crew chief in a flight suit and was completely confused.”
After Rednour learned the suited-up Airman was a flying crew chief - the best of the best who got to fly all over the world - she was hooked on the dream of becoming one.
“I decided at that moment that I was going to learn and do my job to the best of my ability to earn that title,” she said. “That’s the same motivation I have here in becoming a dedicated crew chief.”
Rednour got her start in the career field with the 362nd Crew Chief Squadron at Shepherd Air Force Base, Texas.
Before coming to Robins, Rednour was stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash., where she was a flying crew chief on KC-135’s for several years.
The dedicated crew chief takes great pride in her role.
“A crew chief is known as ‘a jack of all trades,’ which means we have knowledge about almost all systems and dabble in a little bit of everything pertaining to the jet,” she said. “We are the ones who put our names on the forms of the aircraft, saying that we have thoroughly inspected and performed the necessary maintenance required for it to be safe to fly. I was trained and I always train my Airmen to perform maintenance on aircraft as if they or their loved ones are going to be flying on it. It is a huge responsibility that I take very seriously.”
After nearly a decade of service, Rednour’s passion for her career has not waned.
“I entered into this unknown world eight years ago, hungry to learn and grow, and I find myself the same way now,” she said. “When I joined, I thought I might serve for 20 years. After about a year in the Air Force, I knew I wanted to serve for 20 years and maybe even longer.”
Rednour said she owes much of her success as a dedicated crew chief to those who have taken her under their wings.
“For someone who didn’t even know what a crew chief was eight years ago to now, becoming the first female DCC, I couldn’t have done any of it without the great leaders and mentors I have been blessed to have,” she said. “As a technical sergeant, it is now my responsibility to pass down everything I have learned and focus on the new generation of Airmen coming up in the ranks.”
Team JSTARS leaders, like Lt. Col. Joshua Downing, 461st AMXS commander, said he is proud to have Rednour on board.
“We strive to select the best, most qualified technicians and leaders from among our crew chiefs to serve as DCCs, no matter the demographic,” he said. “Katie has worked hard and proven that she has what it takes to lead at this next level of responsibility. Her selection is a true testament to her exemplifying the values of the Maintainer’s Creed: skill, judgment, integrity, dedication, and loyalty. The different perspectives, lifestyles, and backgrounds of our diverse organization make us a stronger team.”
Master Sgt. Darian Mays, 461st AMXS assistant flight chief, said Rednour is dedicated to her job, always bringing a new perspective to the mission.
“Our mission at JSTARS is unique and nonetheless critical,” he said. “It is through diversity that we will remain ahead of our enemies. Having Tech. Sgt. Rednour, as a dedicated crew chief, diversifies how we approach and solve our problems here at Team JSTARS. I look forward to the new ideas she brings to the table.”
When Rednour puts on her uniform, she said she is an Airman first, striving to be the best of the best.
“It doesn’t matter what gender I am,” she said. “What matters is pulling your own weight, learning your job and training those who will one day replace you to the best of your ability. Women have always had an impact on mission success. I think that the more time goes on and the more we use our voices, the more impact we will see.”
In the next five years, Rednour said she hopes to move into a bigger leadership role and to have inspired other women in maintenance.
“I hope that all women in the Armed Forces feel confident and supported by women and men to achieve their full potential no matter what career field they are in,” she said.
Editor’s Note: March is Women’s History Month. Did you know that according to the latest statistics available in the Air Force’s Interactive Demographics Analysis System, only 853 out of the total 14,025 crew chiefs in the Air Force are female?