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Airman Shadow: SrA Hayden Johnson

Senior Airman Hayden Johnson, low-observable aircraft maintenance technician, explains the process of applying LO coatings to Col. Joseph Kunkel, 325th Fighter Wing vice commander.  The coatings and molds used assist in the F-22s combat performance during missions, but require consistent and professional care in order to maintain its performance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody R. Miller/Released)

Senior Airman Hayden Johnson, low-observable aircraft maintenance technician, explains the process of applying LO coatings to Col. Joseph Kunkel, 325th Fighter Wing vice commander. The coatings and molds used assist in the F-22s combat performance during missions, but require consistent and professional care in order to maintain its performance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Cody R. Miller/Released)

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The 325th Fighter Wing vice commander learned the duties of a 44th Maintenance Squadron Airman as part of the Airman's Shadow program, Nov. 20.

Colonel Joseph D. Kunkel, 325th FW vice commander, shadowed Senior Airman Hayden Johnson, 44th MXS low-observable aircraft structural maintenance journeyman, while he performed his daily responsibilities at the 44th MXS. Johnson works on the classified attributes of the jet that give it its stealth capabilities.

Johnson, an Air Force reservist, was chosen by his leadership due to his exemplary performance in the fulfillment of his duties.

"I showed Col. Kunkel the various steps it takes in our job to ensure that Tyndall's jets are ready to fulfill the mission," Johnson said.  "He seemed really interested in the process and had some really good questions.  He was able to get a step-by-step breakdown of each way we assess the damage to aircraft structural components and low-observable coatings."

Johnson's job is to assemble structural parts and components to meet requirements for preserving structural integrity and low-observable qualities.  He also advises on structural and low-observable repair, modification, and corrosion protection treatment with respect to original strength, weight, and contour to maintain structural and low-observable integrity.  He ensures aircraft component balance is maintained and assembles repairs using special fasteners and adhesives.

"We deal with a lot of hazardous materials and chemicals, but the job is interesting, because there is so much to it," Johnson said.  "You're always learning something new and the job itself is vital to the full combat performance of the F-22."

"During his time at the 44th MXS, SrA Johnson has immersed himself in operations across the spectrum," said Lt. Col. William Magee, 44th MXS commander.  "He has assisted in the 44th MXS unit stand-up as well as the LO section stand-up.  He has also brought superior leadership and mentorship to junior airmen by successfully training and monitoring two pipe-line airmen through their five level training."

Col. Kunkel also had positive things to say about Johnson and the work he does for Tyndall.

"As a pilot it's always interesting to see this side of the process," Kunkel said.  "The work that the LO technicians do gives the F-22 a huge advantage in combat and has saved tons of lives as a result."

The Airman's Shadow program is a 325th FW commander program designed to recognize 325th FW personnel. The program provides an opportunity for the commander to meet with the Airmen and get a first-hand look at what Tyndall Airmen are doing.