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Master sergeant returns to first base; visits past

By Senior Airman C. Todd Lopez

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey (Nov. 16, 2001) -- "When I grew up," said Master Sgt. Patrick Calton, lead production superintendent, 67th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan, "I wanted to do just what I'm doing right now."

"My father is retired Air Force. My brother was in the Navy, and my sister was in the Air Force," he said. "Growing up, my dad worked on aircraft as a structural maintenance technician, and growing up, I made models of aircraft and hung them up in my bedroom. I have always been fascinated with flying and aircraft."

Master Sgt. Patrick Calton, lead production superintendent, 67th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, Kadena Air Base, Japan checks aircraft paperwork with F-15 crewchief Senior Airman John Zellers, 67th EFS. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Ashley Sorrels.

As lead production superintendent - or "pro-super" - Calton's charge includes some 90 individuals who maintain the F-15 fighter aircraft here. He directs their efforts, provides guidance in their work, and even works to ensure their well-being.

"My primary mission is to ensure for every ONW mission I put the required number of jets into the air," said Calton. "I am responsible for all the maintenance that goes on, for making sure the people are taken care of, that they are fed, and for ensuring they have what they need to do their job."

This isn't the first time Calton has worked on the Incirlik flightline. In fact, in 1982, then-Airman Calton worked here as part of transient alert. This was actually his first base of assignment.

"It was way different then," said Calton. "The alley started at the railroad tracks. There were only two restaurants and a handful of shops. Most of the shops were in Adana. I lived in the village, with a Turkish family.

"They are still there. I have already visited them, and I try to see them once a week. What's cool is that my landlord's son was about a year and a half old when I left. I just saw him off; he is going to Ankara to go to college."

After his initial tour here, Calton returned to the United States. There he was assigned for the first time as a crewchief to a single airframe.

"I went from Incirlik to Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, Florida, and worked the A-10 aircraft for nine and a half years. When they shut down Myrtle Beach AFB I went to Tyndall AFB and was there for nine years on the F-15," said Calton. Recently, he changed station again; this time to Japan.

He has a plan for the rest of his time in the Air Force - a plan that gives him even more troops to take care of.

"I plan on making senior master sergeant this time and chief before I get out. Actually, my ultimate goal is to be the chief enlisted manager of a fighter squadron," said Calton.

He knows the key to attaining that goal as well.

"Once the aircraft break the ground and go, they are up for some time," said Calton. He points to a pack in the back of his vehicle. "In that backpack there are my promotion fitness exams. I find one of these quiet aircraft pads and study."

He also has plans for after his military service.

"I love the outdoors. I love to fish, hunt and play golf. If all my financial stuff goes as planned, I may have to bag groceries at the commissary every once in a while, but that will be it. But really, fishing, hunting and playing golf is all I will do."

According to Calton though, he loves the Air Force, and he doesn't plan on bagging groceries any time soon.

"I am staying in until they tell me to leave, or until I win the lottery. Whichever comes first," said Calton. "It isn't just the job that I love; it's that this is a family. It is just like the TV ads say, this is a way of life - and I like this way of life."