Learning and leading in electronic warfare

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Jessica H. Smith
  • 18th Wing Public Affairs
Every career field can have it’s highs and lows, and for some there’s much more to gain than just knowing how to do the job efficiently. Often, a job can shape someone both personally and professionally creating a unique perspective on their role.

Maintaining the defensive systems of mission essential aircraft is a critical task. Tech Sgt. Joshua Dungan, electronic warfare systems craftsman with the 353rd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron at Kadena Air Force Base, Japan, has gained much more than job proficiency over his years in the career field.

Dungan wasn’t exactly sure what he had signed up for when he told his recruiter yes for an electronic warfare job – ready to go, he eagerly accepted. On a daily basis, he’s responsible for the preventative and corrective maintenance on the MC-130H Combat Talon II and MC130J Commando II model aircraft ensuring the defensive systems have up to date software and are functioning as needed – a very important part of the mission. Despite the significance of the job, Dungan does it with sureness.

“It’s a serious business doing aircraft maintenance and obviously if you don’t do something correctly it can have serious implications, but I’m never nervous to go out and do the job,” he explained. “I’ve been trained on how to do it and I’ve done it for a long time so I’m confident going out there.”

Years – and multiple airframe models – later, he’s now helping others excel at it.

“My favorite part of what I do is to pass on the knowledge to our younger Airmen so we can prep the future generation of EW troops that come out here to maintain the aircraft,” Dungan said. “That’s where I get most of my satisfaction – teaching others.”

Although he is passing on knowledge to others, he still faces challenges himself.

“Sometimes we’ll run across something that we haven’t seen before – chasing that down and finding out how we’re going to fix it is the most difficult part, but that’s one of the best parts,” Dungan said. “You start learning more about the systems you’re maintaining so it makes you that much better for the future.”

Learning opportunities are something Dungan welcomes in his career as he is constantly working toward improvement.

“I’m always trying to better myself whether that’s through education or working different airframes – learning not just from other EW troops but some other specialists on these aircraft,” he explained. “I always try to go out there and learn what they can do just to make myself a better maintainer in general.”

Aircraft maintenance isn’t the only thing Dungan has learned – being in the Air Force has taught him the importance of leadership.

“I was told once that being a leader isn’t just being a leader in one thing in particular … a leader is a leader everywhere,” Dungan said, “Different roles such as being an electronic warfare craftsman, a father, a brother, or a son … leadership can fit into all those roles.”

For Dungan, being a leader, teaching others and understanding the role he plays in the mission are all things that bring him personal and job satisfaction, but at the end of the day, seeing other’s succeed is what matters most to him.

“My biggest accomplishment is to see my troops succeed and to see them going there and seeing the things that they’ve learned and the things that I taught them – that they’re putting that to good use and that they’re out there getting the job done,” he said. “It lets me know that I’m doing my job and it’s almost a sense of pride to see them go off on their own and take care of business.”