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Big Brother Hands over Mission to Little Brother

By Staff Writer
Air Force Link

March 16, 2014 - AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

As a service member's deployment comes to an end, one of the biggest concerns is to set their replacement up for success. For Staff Sgt. David Rippy, his replacement is his brother, Senior Airman Mark Rippy, both reservists deployed from the 315th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

The Rippy brothers are C-17 Globemaster III hydraulic systems specialists assigned to the 8th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar who maintain C-17s supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

They are responsible for troubleshooting, inspecting and performing hydraulic system maintenance, which allows the C-17 and its crews the ability to transport passengers and all types of cargo to include food, water, supplies and vehicles to accomplish Air Forces Central Command's mission.

David initially started his Air Force career as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician but ultimately changed career paths after talking to Mark who was training to become a hydraulic systems specialist at Sheppard AFB, Texas.

"I went through initial training at Sheppard (AFB) and then went through nine months of upgrade training with my unit at Charleston to be a certified hydraulic system specialist," David said.

David went on to work at his civilian job as an automotive set-up mechanic where he troubleshoots problems and performs all mechanical maintenance functions on equipment which includes repairs, modifications and performs changeovers and set-up on machines, fixtures and measurement devices.

Mark, following the same training plan, finished his upgrade training but stayed on active orders and became extremely proficient at his Air Force job.

"I knew Mark and his abilities from working with him at Charleston (AFB)," said Master Sgt. Armenia Coleman, 8th EAMS maintenance section chief. "Working with David the past couple of months, I knew getting Mark in the unit we wouldn't lose a step with the turnover."

With the stories his brother was telling him of his experiences here, Mark was able to get a vivid picture of deployed work and life.

"I talked to Mark and let him know about the mission out here before he was identified to deploy as we kept in touch often throughout my deployment," David said.

"I spoke to my unit leadership and volunteered to deploy anywhere in the (area of responsibility)," Mark said. "I was initially told that the members were already identified for the next couple for deployments but I was still ready and eager to deploy and an opportunity arose that allowed me to deploy here and become part of the 8th EAMS team."

Mark arrived in March and became not only a member of the 8th EAMS but also a direct replacement for his brother. The two Airmen share a few common traits that allow them to excel as hydraulic system specialists.

"Both of us work hard, be it in a team environment or as an individual, and we are always looking for opportunities to learn and assist different career fields to achieve mission accomplishment," David said.

Hydraulic systems specialists are key to ensuring the hydraulics and hydraulic pressure is functional and works properly to actuate the flight controls, ramp, door, gear and braking system of the C-17s that fly missions daily.

"I worked with David for two months and as a knowledgeable and hardworking Airman I see the same attitude and work ethic from Mark in the few days I have worked with him," said Staff Sgt. Bobby Hill, an 8th EAMS instrument and flight control systems journeyman.

"Being a reservist, I am grateful to for the active-duty Airmen who supported me on this deployment," David said. "I came to the unit and I was able to learn so much from the people with experience about the mission and my job."

David has won numerous awards while deployed, to include the 8th EAMS Hard Charger award, Safety Warrior and "Flight Knuckle Buster" during this deployment.

"As is typical, the older brother leaves some big shoes for the baby brother to fill," Coleman summarized.

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