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Featured Profile for Weapons Maintenance Technician
Weapons Maintenance Technician – Reginald Barnes

Karen Morrison

I’ve always loved airplanes. I grew up going to air shows with my father. After high school, I had a couple of odd jobs and eventually tried college for awhile. Then, I decided that I wanted to do something drastic to change my life. I wanted to travel so I went to a recruiter and said, “I want to join the Army, go to Europe, and be in aviation.”

When I enlisted at the age of 22, I went to Fort Jackson, SC, for boot camp. I was assigned as a weapons system technician on attack helicopters. After that, I did my advanced individual training at Fort Eustis VA, for five months of training in my specialty. I learned everything from electronics to mechanics. I also learned how to break a weapon down, put it back together, load it, and make sure it stayed on the helicopter during firing.

I had two tours of duty in Germany. I participated in soldier training and worked on gunneries which are firing ranges for the helicopters. I prepared the weapons, loaded them, ran the rearming pads, and reloaded everything once the helicopter fired a round. I also performed helicopter maintenance in and out of the field.

I was always looking for something exciting to do. While I was in Germany, I learned how to skydive. When I made that first tandem parachute jump, I knew that I wanted to jump as often as possible. One of my instructors was a former Golden Knight and he encouraged me to think about pursuing the Golden Knights as a career. I trained and trained, then went to tryouts and was selected. I performed with the Golden Knights for two years as a demonstrator, then moved over to the competition team for three years.

I’ve had the opportunity to be part of a women’s team that participates in CISM (Conseil International du Sport Militaire) competitions. These competitions draw military sports teams from all over the world. In 2004, I was on the women’s skydiving team that won the CISM competition and set a military world record in formation skydiving by completing 25 formations in 35 seconds.

Currently, I work on the parachute team as the operations noncommissioned officer. I organize the demonstration show schedule for all the air shows that we do. I’m still jumping, too. In my career, I’ve had 4000 jumps.

I’ve been in the Army for 22 years and would like to stay in for another year or two, then retire and raise my children. One thing that I really love about the Army is that I’ve had the opportunity to do things that I could have never imagined. As a civilian, I would never have worked on attack helicopters or done any kind of mechanical work. I also credit the military for giving me organizational skills and for letting me know that my limits were a lot further out than I thought they were. I can do so much more than I thought that I ever could both physically and mentally. The military taught me how to learn, how to work as part of a team, and also how to be creative to find solutions.

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