Always have an open mind

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Joseph Bartoszek
  • 31st Fighter Wing

AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy – Once a civilian diesel mechanic, now a U.S. Air Force avionics craftsman, Staff Sgt. Trevor Koelsch with the 555th Fighter Generation Squadron finds his greatest satisfaction with working on an aircraft and then seeing it on takeoff.

Koelsch recollects a conversation he had with his coworker, a former F-16 Fighting Falcon crew chief.

“He said it would be a great opportunity to get into the Air Force,” said Koelsch. “To travel the world and gain life experience.”

Koelsch was content as a diesel mechanic, but what his coworker said inspired him to want more in life.

In March 2016, at 21 years old, Koelsch decided to change his life and sign the dotted line to serve his country, enlisting in the avionics career field in the U.S. Air Force.

Though he thought he might be more suited for the vehicle maintenance career field due to his background on cars, Koelsch said he went into it with an open mind and does not regret the choice he made to try a new career.

“There were a couple of times when my recruiter called me to go into security forces or other jobs to get in earlier,” said Koelsch. “But I decided to wait until I got the job I wanted.”

Koelsch said how he enjoys the challenging career field and how it pushes him to get the job done.

“The job can seem very stressful at times,” said Koelsch. “But I just really enjoy working on the jet and learning new things, even with the experience I already have.”

Although, the avionics career field can be challenging, there are things that make Koelsch’s job enjoyable. Whether it’s fixing something while the pilot is about to take off or fixing something no one else was able to, Koelsch finds satisfaction and looks forward to working every day.

“When you can see a jet that’s been broken and you’ve been working on for hours finally take off,” said Koelsch. “That’s the biggest sense of accomplishment that you can get.”

Koelsch said his supervisors and leadership were a great inspiration when he was an Airman, and he now strives to be a noncommissioned officer that younger Airmen can look up to for mentorship like the role models he had.

“I’ve always just wanted to reach the same skill levels that my mentors and leadership had when I was an Airman,” said Koelsch. “When I was Airman, I was trying to be just like them.”

Due to Koelsch having good leaders when he was a younger Airman, he said he tries to be the same inspiration to his younger Airmen.

“I always tell the younger Airmen to volunteer for every job opportunity,” said Koelsch. “Because when you throw yourself into a tough situation, not only do you learn what you need to know, but you also learn what you’re capable of.”

Due to his passion for his occupation and excellent work ethic, many of Koelsch’s coworkers and leadership are grateful they get to work with him.

“I seldom see this work ethic among enlistees in recent years,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jared Faber, 555th Fighter Generation Squadron avionics craftsman. “Which makes him even more so, a diamond in the rough.”

Koelsch strives to take the most challenging work and motivate those around him every day.

“He fills maintenance shortfalls with a smile on his face,” said Faber. “He sees the importance of his work and prioritizes it.”

Koelsch’s coworkers say that he will not stop working until the job gets done, even if that means staying later than his shift’s end.

“One time my shift ended at ten hours, but there were only two people on the next shift,” said Koelsch. “So, another guy and I stayed hours late and replaced some parts on a jet because it needed to get done.”

Koelsch also does maintenance outside his traditional career field by earning certifications in engine run, hot pit refueling and agile combat employment.

“These qualifications ensure anytime and anywhere, he can help support the mission,” said Faber. “This is a rarity our career field because of the workload and numerous required tasks we need to excel in.”

Whether it is the work ethic for his job, mentoring younger Airmen or being flexible with the types of work he needs to do, Koelsch strives to be the best in everything he does.

“As an Avionics subject matter expert, he supervises, trains and advises others on all matters related to the field,” said Faber. “He upholds what we call the Nickel standard.”