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McKenzie’s Mountain, you say? : Robins employee leaves warm memories, cold spot

Arthur McKenzie, an Air Force veteran who worked as a team lead with the 562nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, stands on McKenzie Mountain. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jenny Gordon)

Arthur McKenzie, an Air Force veteran who worked as a team lead with the 562nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, stands on McKenzie Mountain. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jenny Gordon)

ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- If you're not familiar with "McKenzie's Mountain," a paved area for C-130s located up a small incline just northwest of Bldg. 91, then you probably never worked with its namesake.

Arthur McKenzie, an Air Force veteran and retiree who worked as a team lead with the 562nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, loved the various missions he was immersed in at Robins. He seemed most at home among the mechanics he worked alongside, never missing a beat when it came to helping someone do a job better.  

At one point in his 30-plus years at Robins, he worked in the 560th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron as a first-line supervisor. He came in one cold, gusty day to talk about his maintenance career, a fitting reunion considering the outside elements seemed to confirm the folklore surrounding the "mountain" itself. 

Walk up the mountain from the building, and you may think it's not a mountain after all, but a small hill. The open paved lot, constructed in 1986, typically has two planes parked there. 

One might've just been towed in; another may be getting fuel work, while some patiently sit awaiting the next stage of programmed depot maintenance. 

As a former 560th AMXS member, the designation somehow cropped up one day from a coworker, who was referring to the patch of pavement just outside the cavernous hangar where McKenzie could always be found with a crew of mechanics.

It seemed McKenzie enjoyed working up there, but boy, could it get chilly.

"It became my home. No one wanted to work up there with me because if you stood up on that hill, and checked the wind coming up that ramp, it's cold," he said. "I mean there's nothing to block the wind, but we all just took it in stride."

Termetrus Shepherd, with the 402nd Commodities Maintenance Support Squadron, worked with McKenzie. He recalled him as a good supervisor who enjoyed talking as well as always looking out for the welfare of his crew. 

"When they built that pad out there behind Bldg. 91 it seemed that nobody's plane ever got sent up there but Arthur McKenzie's" said Shepherd. "In the cold ... in the heat ... we had to trek up that hill."

"He was not the kind of supervisor that stayed inside out of the elements. He was right there in the trenches with us," he said. 

An unassuming patch of pavement nestled in its own corner of runway where many a C-130 have sat in various stages of maintenance for almost 30 years, McKenzie had some thoughts on the subject. 

"That whole area isn't about me," he said. "It's about the mechanics who worked up there, and let me tell you, I had some of the best crews you'd ever want to assemble. We had good planes because of those mechanics."