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Airlifter of the week: Reconstructing groundwork

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Arnold Wickham IV, 86th Maintenance Squadron non-destructive inspection craftsman, poses for a photo in the NDI laboratory at Ramstein Air Base, May 11, 2020. Wickham has been recognized by 86th Airlift Wing leadership as Airlifter of the Week for his excellence in accomplishing a time-critical inspection and improving NDI processes for Airmen’s occupational health and wellness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Nesha Humes Stanton)

This report originally published at dvidshub.net (DVIDS) and is reprinted in accordance with DVIDS guidelines and copyright guidance.

Staff Sgt. Arnold Wickham IV, was determined to follow in his father’s footsteps to design, construct and maintain aircraft as an aerospace engineer.

Yet, costly tuition rates forced Wickham recalculate his studies. That is when Wickham looked to the U.S. Air Force for a career in maintenance and worked his goals from the ground up.

Five years later, Wickham is excelling as a non-destructive inspection craftsman with the 86th Maintenance Squadron (MXS), and improving his unit with his technical expertise.

On May 7, 2020, 86th Airlift Wing leadership recognized Wickham as the Airlifter of the Week.

Wickham was lauded for exemplifying excellence, a trait his supervisor, Tech Sgt. Jamie Kopp, 86th MXS NDI craftsman, sees daily.

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“SSgt Wickham is extremely intelligent and an exceptional NDI craftsman,” Kopp said. “He never complains, always goes above and beyond, and maintains a positive attitude.”

With the stop movement orders due to coronavirus disease 2019, the NDI office has had to manage a large workload with fewer technicians, yet Wickham still makes time to teach other Airmen.

“(His) work ethic is unmatched,” Kopp continued. “Our section is extremely lucky to have him.”

NDIs are accountable for identifying an aircraft’s discrepancies prior to any fatigue developing into a more dangerous problem.

“Our job is pretty feast or famine,” Wickham said. “It comes either all at once or none at all. It keeps me busy.”

Wickham, a Howell, Michigan native, was largely responsible for the NDI laboratory being recognized as having the 86 MXS’ “best practices” during a recent U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa inspection. He identified multiple safety and occupational health discrepancies in his section, resulting in the implementation of mandatory patient health screenings, improving the long-term health and care of future NDIs.

Upon learning about his Airlifter of the Week achievement, Wickham was surprised.

“I did not know what to say,” Wickham said. “It was a little bit surreal. It was cool. I did not expect to have a phone conversation with General August or Chief Rendon.”

Wickham really enjoys being an NDI craftsman and feels he really “lucked out” with landing his job after enlisting open to any mechanical career.

Additionally, the Staff Sergeant utilized his expertise to flawlessly accomplish a time-critical inspection project in half the estimated time by identifying fatigued aircraft parts and promptly coordinating repairs.

Furthermore, on his off-time, Wickham led a Kaiserslautern Military Community noncommissioned officer in charge organization in fundraising $11,000, for four events.

As Wickham continues his thorough craftsmanship to propel his working knowledge towards his goal in aerospace engineering, it will generate a more-prepared force, from the ground and up.

The Airlifter of the Week program recognizes Ramstein Airmen who, through hard work and dedication, make the 86th Airlift Wing the World’s Best Wing.

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