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Senior Airman Niall Oxendale, an aircraft structural maintenance journeyman with the 100th Maintenance Squadron, fixes a MH-53 Pave Low helicopter blade.
Senior Airman Niall Oxendale, an aircraft structural maintenance journeyman with the 100th Maintenance Squadron, fixes a MH-53 Pave Low helicopter blade. (Sean Kimmons / S&S)

Senior Airman Niall Oxendale, an aircraft structural maintenance journeyman with the 100th Maintenance Squadron, says he doesn’t waste time when he’s on the job. His performance doesn’t go unnoticed: He recently was promoted six months early.

At RAF Mildenhall, Oxendale, a 23-year-old from Detroit, designs, repairs, modifies and fabricates aircraft; metal, plastic, composite, and bonded structural parts; and components. Basically, he makes an aircraft look good.

How do you pronounce your first name?

Nile. Just like the river.

Can you explain what the Air Force pays you to do?

Fix their planes, all the different components. We [even] fix bird strikes.

What’s the worst bird strike you’ve seen on an aircraft?

The worst I’ve seen was on a C-130 fuel pod. It had a pretty big dent. Usually, they clean them off before they get to us, but this one still had a bird hanging [off] it. That was kind of interesting to look at.

Do you know what kind of bird it was?

I’m not sure.

What’s your favorite thing about your job?

Seeing all the different aircraft.

Least favorite?

Probably cleaning up a huge mess. I have to deal with hazardous waste.

Why were you promoted six months early?

I like to come to work and work hard. Instead of sitting around, I like to get the job done.

Do you have a nickname at work?

Probably “Ox” would be the nickname.

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