An essential piece of the puzzle

Airman 1st Class Richard Rodriguez, 811th Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, stows a flight helmet in a pilot's locker after he inspected it for function and servicability.  AFE inspects and maintains other equipment as well, to include night-vision goggles, life preservers and survival kits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Torey Griffith)(released)

Airman 1st Class Richard Rodriguez, 811th Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, stows a flight helmet in a pilot's locker after he inspected it for function and servicability. AFE inspects and maintains other equipment as well, to include night-vision goggles, life preservers and survival kits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Torey Griffith)(released)

Staff Sgt. Stuart McCallum, 811th Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, packs flares for a survival kit.  The AFE team inspects and maintains equipment such as flight helmets, night-vision goggles, life vests and survival kits.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Torey Griffith)

Staff Sgt. Stuart McCallum, 811th Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, packs flares for a survival kit. The AFE team inspects and maintains equipment such as flight helmets, night-vision goggles, life vests and survival kits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Torey Griffith)

Airman 1st Class Mitchell Scarbrough, 811th Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, checks technical orders for a helmet he is inspecting for functionality and serviceability.  AFE inspects and maintains other equipment as well, to include night vision goggles, life preservers and survival kits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Torey Griffith)

Airman 1st Class Mitchell Scarbrough, 811th Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician, checks technical orders for a helmet he is inspecting for functionality and serviceability. AFE inspects and maintains other equipment as well, to include night vision goggles, life preservers and survival kits. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Torey Griffith)

JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The Air Force is often compared to a puzzle. There are thousands of integral pieces that must fit together flawlessly to complete the picture, or mission.

One piece of the 1st Helicopter Squadron mission is comprised of the Aircrew Life Support team, and the important equipment they provide the Chief's Own UH-1N fliers.

"We are here to provide equipment to the fliers with the equipment they need to complete their missions," said Staff Sgt. Ricardo Martin, 811th Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician. "We are always here for them, before and after they fly, to make sure they have what they need."

The products they supply and maintain are essential to safe flight and range from helmets and night vision goggles to crash survival kits and chemical attack survival gear.

"The most challenging aspect, as well as the most important, is the attention to detail that goes into every piece of equipment we maintain," said Airman 1st Class Mitchell Scarbrough, 811th Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment technician. "Everything needs to be done 100 percent correctly all the time."

While the lack of a margin for error might intimidate some, it is normal operations for the airmen at AFE. Sergeant Martin, who trains newcomers to the shop, said the most challenging aspect of his job is to train all the AFE team members to the same level of excellence.

"The product, when finished needs to be exactly the same no matter who accomplishes it," Sergeant Martin said.

The level they perform at is at the pinnacle, as evidenced by their lack of write ups during the recent Unit Compliance Inspection.

"We obliterated the UCI," said Sergeant Marin. "Our shop is top notch."