Osan honors memory of weapons Airman

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dwane R. Young
  • 51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The 51st Munitions Armament Flight honored the life and service of Staff Sgt. Tyrell Harris by redesignating and renaming a GFU-8 Ammunition Loading Assembly system, or ALA, in his honor during the weapons load crew of the quarter competition, on Jan. 12, 2023.

Harris passed away suddenly on February 19, 2022, in Pyeongtaek, South Korea at the young age of 34. He served in the U.S. Air Force for 15 years and was heralded by his leadership as a pivotal member of the Osan and Kunsan Air Base maintenance families who was beloved by his troops.

“Harris’ sudden passing was felt deeply within our maintenance family, so instantly we knew we had to do something to honor his memory,” said Tech. Sgt. Terry White, 51st MUNS Armament Support section chief. “I’m proud and extremely happy that this day is finally here.”

The importance of the ALA is well known within the weapons loading community. It is used to load the 30mm GAU-8/A Gatling gun mounted to the front of A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft. Without an ALA the Gatling gun cannot be loaded and the A-10 cannot fly its close-air support mission. 

“For me getting his name on a critical piece of equipment like the ALA is more meaningful than on the aircraft itself,” said Senior Master Sgt. Bradley Perkins, 51st MUNS Armament flight chief. “Everyone notices the aircraft, but like Tye, that ALA is behind the scenes quietly getting things done.”

Harris was affectionately known to his family as “Tye”, while his quiet and relaxed personality earned him the moniker of “sleepy”. 

After a moment of silence, Col. Todd Wydra, 51st Maintenance Group commander and Senior Airman Nathalie Estrada, 51st Munitions Squadron armament technician unveiled the ALA bearing Harris’ nickname “Sleepy TYEme”.

Every USAF base that supports A-10’s possesses a fleet of ALA’s that maintainers have historically renamed as identifiers instead of using their long serial numbers. “Sleepy TYEme” will now join Osan’s ALA ranks alongside; “Grim Grizzly”, “The Darkness” and “Bone Crusher”. 

“Whenever we see ‘Sleepy TYEme’ on the flightline, loading 30-millimeter ammunition into an A-10, we’ll have Tyrell there with us assisting on every load,” said Tech Sgt. Michael Davenport 51st Maintenance Group load standardization crew chief.