MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. --
The 134th Air Refueling Wing hosted the annual Top Wrench program here, July 14.
The Top Wrench program is a one day automotive competition developed to introduce high school students to a new perspective on how the decisions they are making now will affect them in the future, and aimed at stopping the abuse of drugs and alcohol among teens.
"We use the competition for two reasons, as a recruiting tool for the Air National Guard and to teach them about a drug free life style," said Master Sgt. Richard Payne, aircraft maintenance supervisor for the 134th ARW.
During the competition students compete in six different areas; pit crew challenge (fastest tire change), custom paint contest, static engine challenge (basic engine troubleshooting), welding and fabrication contest, computer control car challenge, and valve cover race (students build race cars out of valve covers). Students also get a chance to tour the base and see static displays of aircraft, military vehicles and weapons.
"This was the third year I worked in the engine competition," said Tech. Sgt. Cameron Lale, services craftsman for the 134th ARW. "I think Top Wrench gives these students a place they feel comfortable and also introduce them to something they may not have seen before."
Top Wrench is not just about competition. The true spirit of Top Wrench is to provide students with a fresh perspective, one that spurs them to follow their dreams and not allow drugs and alcohol to stifle them.
"For me a vocational program was a better route than a four year college," said Payne. "Whether students fit into a four year school or a vocational school we are here to encourage them and let them know that nothing can hold them back from doing what they want to do in life, except themselves," said Payne.
The competition also showcases the benefits the Air National Guard has to offer them if they choose that route.
"If students want to join the Air National Guard we can help them with educational benefits and give them a chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves, but I always say don't ever let anyone tell you, you can't do something," said Payne. "Where there is a will, there is a way."
Lale stated he would have loved the opportunity to do this when he was in school and hopes the students that come to this event, not only compete, but learn the value of a trade and how drugs and alcohol may hinder their future success.
For more information on the Top Wrench competition, visit http://www.topwrenchcompetition.com/contact.html