Reservist molds metal on, off duty

  • Published
  • By Capt. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
  • 512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Whether it's on or off duty, when Senior Airman Michael Wright goes to work sparks fly.

The reservist is a welder in the 512th Maintenance Squadron Aircraft Metals Technology Shop, and as if that wasn't enough to keep him busy, he also owns his own metals shop.

As a metals technologist, he is on orders working for the 436th MXS Metals Technology Shop here. Shop members make and repair various types of aircraft parts as well as fix aircraft generation equipment, which is used by maintenance members working on the flightline.

"Since the C-5 was made in the 1960s and 1970s, some of the parts are no longer manufactured, so we have to make them here," said Master Sgt. Randal Martin, 436th MXS metals technology shop NCO in charge.

Airman Wright said he gets a lot of fulfillment from the job's challenges of making aircraft parts no longer available on the market.

"It's very satisfying to hear someone say, 'I can't believe you made that,'" said Airman Wright. "And, I feel I'm doing something important. When we repair a C-5 or C-17, someone down range gets what they need, whether it's bullets, food, Humvees or bringing one of America's fallen back home to their loved ones."

Like many reservists, Airman Wright brings his civilian experience to the Air Force.
"The reservists who work in this shop - we are all welders and machinists on the outside," said Airman Wright.

After completing a four-year enlistment with the Air Force in 2000, the former flightline mechanic began working for a cup manufacturer in Federalsburg, Md. He learned to weld and fix manufacturing equipment and found he had a natural talent for it, said Airman Wright.

His wife Tech. Sgt. Angie Wright, who he met while on active duty, transferred to the Liberty Wing in 2002 and works in the 512th MXS. After witnessing his wife's service in the AF Reserve, Airman Wright decided to join the unit in 2005, and they and their two children moved to Delaware.

Airman Wright has been on orders since 2005; and, when he isn't here, he's busy at his own shop.

In 2005, the Wrights bought a trailer and set up a mobile welding operation. Their original plan was to take it on the race circuit and provide on-site repairs. They never made it there, because there was such a local demand for their business, said Airman Wright. Their jobs ranged from fixing farm and industrial equipment to recreational vehicles and race cars.

In April 2008, they moved their business to a shop, located behind their house, said Airman Wright. They are currently assisting a customer in restoring a 1950 Ford Mercury. 

"The metals work we are doing is making replacement body panels for the car because of rust damage," he said. "We plan to have it finished by June 30 to go to Delaware Street Rod Show in Harrington."

Although Airman Wright has scaled back operations at his shop recently, he now accepts new clientele on a case-by-case basis.

Whether it's working on base or at home, Airman Wright said one thing's for sure.
"The Reserve is the best of both worlds," he said. "Not only do I get to work at a civilian job I enjoy, I also get to be a part of the military and serve our nation."