Wild Weasel Highlight: Senior Airman Mandeville, Ammo Flight

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Last year, the 35th Maintenance Group (MXG) Munitions Flight, or ammo flight, at Misawa Air Base, Japan, postponed their retrograde, a process which ships out any unserviceable and excess assets and munitions to the U.S. for disposal and distribution.

After several retrogrades postponed, the ammo flight needed to plan for a larger retrograde with the accumulated assets of this year and last year. With a larger job, the flight luckily had an Airman they deemed perfect for the job.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Holden Mandeville, 35th Maintenance Squadron (MXS) Munitions Flight stockpile management crew chief, decided to join the Air Force right after high school, ushered by the influence of his family and his uncle who also served in the Air Force.

When his entry was delayed going through Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), Mandeville got a job in construction adding ceilings to rooms. He strived to finish jobs as soon as he could. By the time MEPS approved him for enlistment, a year later, he held the highest paid position in his construction job and was mentoring others.  

Mandeville joined the Air Force with an open mechanical contract and received a job working on bombs. He was stationed at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea which was perfect for Mandeville, due to the high-paced mission.

After Osan, Mandeville arrived at Misawa Air Base as a staff sergeant select. Already prepared from his time in Osan, Mandeville’s current position was ideal. His current job requires planning and taking a hands-off approach, mirroring qualities of a noncommissioned officer. When the ammo flight heard that the retrograde would be conducted this year, he was their best choice.

“Where I came from in construction, I know that a job not over until it’s 100% complete,” Mandeville said. “I would know what to accomplish for the day and just finish it.”

Mandeville was chosen because of his diligence and determination to complete tasks especially with retrograde happening up to twice a year.

“Ever since Mandeville arrived, he's been super ambitious and charging forward and it's perfect for retrograde,” said Staff Sgt. Mark Esposo, 35th MXS Ammo Flight stockpile munitions crew chief. “He's been pivotal for this retrograde. He gets things done.”

With the previous retrograde being postponed, Mandeville was worried about another cancellation, but he prepared nonetheless.

The majority of the retrograde process is spent planning and coordinating to ensure that assets and munitions are accounted for and logged.

After two months of planning, Mandeville was able to push his team to get all 114 assets, valuing $4.8 million, into nine maritime shipping containers in one month, all while fabricating wooden braces to ensure the greatest stability of the munitions during shipment.

When asked what task he’ll be working on after the retrograde is finished, Mandeville responded that he would like to get a head start on planning the next retrograde that involves Yokota Air Base, early next year.