First Female Maintenance Group Commander Takes Reins

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  • By Tech. Sgt. Sam King
With the firm grasp of the guidon and a sharp salute, the first female 916th Maintenance Group commander took up the reins of her new unit here.
Col. Amanda Sheets became the commander of the Reserve KC-135R Stratotanker maintenance unit in a small ceremony at the unit training assembly September 9.

“I am thrilled to be back in the 916th ARW and to lead this maintenance group,” said the former 916th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron commander.  “It was hard to leave the first time, so to come back and command the 916th MXG is a huge honor for me.”
Col. Craig McPike, the 916th ARW commander, who officiated the ceremony, said it was an easy decision to hire Sheets to lead his maintenance group.  His confidence showed right away. McPike left Sheets, as the ranking officer, in charge of the wing when he and his vice commander went on a temporary duty assignment.
Her first tasking: manage a wing hurricane evacuation plan for the approaching hurricane, Florence.
“I was a little intimidated,” she said.  “Having a career in maintenance, you just never think you would have the responsibility of the whole wing in a situation like this.  This was the fifth evacuation in my career, but that was always within the MXG.  This time I had to look at the wing and the various processes.  I knew though it was nothing I couldn’t handle and with the team we have at the 916th to help, we would be successful.”
Sheets wasn’t aware she broke new ground with her current position or that she had also done so when she was the first female to command the 916th AMXS in 2010.  Upon the discovery, she was more than ready to accept the responsibilities.

“I am just one of many who have gone before me to break down the walls,” said the 22-year officer.  “I hope it continues, so all individuals have opportunities to utilize their skills.”
Sheets has a plenty to do now that she’s officially in the leadership seat.  She takes over the group responsible for maintaining 12 KC-135Rs both deployed and at home. 
Currently, her unit is surrounded by large-scale construction projects in the hangars and on the flight line.  To top if off, she also must prepare her maintainers for a full mission change in the form of the new KC-46 Pegasus, due in two years.
“Converting to a new airframe is hard, then add the fact it’s the new, long awaited KC-46,” said the colonel.  “That is a task I am excited to tackle!”