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Father, son team up to bring Wolf Pack its weapons

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stephen Collier
  • 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
One builds them, the other inspects them.

That's the relationship between two members of the 8th Maintenance Squadron munitions flight here. It's also the relationship between a father and his son.

Master Sgt. Torre Phillips and his son, Senior Airman David Phillips, work hand-in-hand to ensure Kunsan's many missiles and bombs are ready to be loaded on 8th Fighter Wing "Wolf Pack" F-16 Fighting Falcons at a moment's notice.

"It's cool (having your dad around) because he's a good supervisor and he knows what he's doing," Airman Phillips said. "He's probably one of the smartest ammo guys out here."

Normally assigned to the 31st MXS at Aviano AB, Italy, Sergeant Phillips is deployed here in support of a 120-day air expeditionary force rotation. Airman Phillips said he was more than excited when he found out it was his father who be supporting the 555th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron "Triple Nickel" deployment here.

Working with his son as the 8th MXS's non-commissioned officer in charge of inspections, Sergeant Phillips admits it's hard not to show favoritism in the shop.

"It's really interesting," Sergeant Phillips said. "It does present some challenges, but it's also good because I can see where his knowledge base is and what he's learning through the military. It's a job I know."

Airman Phillips, a native of Sacramento, Calif., has worked in munitions for three years. It's his job as a conventional munitions crew member to build 8th FW Guided Bomb Unit-12 laser-guided bombs, Mk-82 and -84 "dumb bombs," Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or "JDAMs" and handle 20-millimeter ammunition for the F-16's internal gun. Plainly put, Airman Phillips said "if a bomb needs to fly on a particular day, we'll build one."

Sergeant Phillips, a former Wolf Pack member from 2004 to 2005, supports the actions his son and others in the munitions flight take by inspecting and ensuring all munitions, from bombs and missiles to mines and grenades, used for air base defense, are ready to be employed if needed.

And Sergeant Phillip's Air Force family doesn't end with his son stationed here. His step son, 1st Lt. Zachary Mellor, is a weapons system officer on the F-15 Eagle stationed at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.

Airman Phillips admitted he has a "bluesuiter family."

"It's pretty cool (having an Air Force family) because not a lot of people can say their dad is in the Air Force still and in the same career field as you," he said. "A lot of people may have Air Force family members, but not in the same career field."

With his son now a father and a husband, Sergeant Phillips, a 23-year Air Force veteran, recalled the moment David told him he was going to become an Airman.

"I was shocked at first," he admitted. "But then we sat him down and talked to him about the reason he was doing it. Ultimately, I was excited because of the career move, but we weren't sure if he was ready for the discipline. Once we ... found it was truly what he wanted to do, I went with him to the recruiter."

Airman Phillips remembered the situation a little differently. As a junior in high school, he was ready to begin making plans for after graduation. He was impressed with what he saw of the Air Force, but said he felt there was more to joining than just making plans for the future.

"It was cool to join because I knew he would be proud of me," Airman Phillips said. "I wasn't 100-percent sure about (Basic Military Training) and I wanted to get his outlook on it, but overall I was excited to tell him. I was kind of walking in his footsteps."

Both know the day is approaching when Sergeant Phillips will re-deploy back to Aviano, scheduled for early October. But the two won't be separated for long. David currently has orders to the Italian base.

"We're excited because in the military, you tend to not see family as much as you'd like," Sergeant Phillips said of how he and his wife feel about living near David and his family. "We'll be near them but, also, near our grand child."