Maintenance shops create ceremonial key to the wing's future

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nathanial Taylor
  • 167AW/PA
As the 167th Airlift Wing moves toward its future as a C-17 unit, change can be felt all around the base.
For Master Sgt. Kenneth Smith, the 167th Airlift Wing machine shop chief, nothing signifies that change more than the ceremonial C-17 key that his shop, along with the wing's sheet metal shop, designed and created.
The key, which bears the wing's tail flash, the name of the new airframe in place of a traditional key-blade, and a rotating 167th Airlift Wing unit coin in the base, was handed over to Col. Shaun Perkowski, the 167th Airlift Wing commander, in a ceremony on Sept. 25 upon the arrival of the wing's first C-17.
"It (the key) represents change, moving on into the future and new learning experiences for the base," Smith said. "It embodies that change. It signifies that we are actually moving to the new airframe."
This is not the first time that the wing has used a ceremonial key to signify the transition to a new aircraft. In 2006, when the wing moved from C-130s to C-5s, a C-130 key was given to the wing commander of the 130th Airlift Wing in Charleston W.Va., as they took possession of the 167th's C-130s.
According to Smith, the key project is just one of the many times that his shop has come together to do something that benefits the wing.
"A lot of people think that we just support the maintenance group since we are housed here," Smith said. "We support the whole base. The key is just an example of that."
According to Smith, while the entire machine shop was involved in the early design phase of the key, Staff Sgt. Johnathen Guzik, a 167th Airlift Wing machinist, was the driving force behind the project.
"Each of us (in the shop) drew a different part of the original design for the key," Guzik said. "Once it goes from the blackboard to the computer, you have to think about how you are going to manufacture it; things tend to change."
"That was really where my input came in," he added.
During the different stages of the project and the multiple design changes, Guzik put in more than 40 hours over several weeks, he said.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the key, the rotating unit coin in the base, was the most personal design piece for Guzik. The coin came from Guzik's own collection.
"The coin is a little piece of me that will stay here at the base when I'm gone," Guzik said. "Some people get their name in lights or get their name on a statue but my coin is in that key."
The significance of the coin is magnified by the fact that Guzik's position in the machine shop is one of the positions on base that is being eliminated due to the manning cut associated with the transition to the C-17s.
Regardless of his future at the wing, Guzik is determined to continue to do his job to the best of his ability.
"It doesn't matter where I have worked, now or in the past, it is 100 percent till the end," Guzik said. "Just because something bad is coming doesn't mean you give up and quit, you still have to get the job done."
For Guzik, like Smith, the key is the physical representation of a new beginning for the wing, a beginning that has a bright future.