Aviation Ordnancemen, or AOs, are a crucial part of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, as they are the ones who maintain weapons and load them on to fighters, bombers and helicopters. They have been in the Navy and Marines as long as aircraft have, although their position has changed from mixed combat and support to solely support.
AOs have been involved in every major American war in the 20th century. They are enlisted support men who work on ships and on land. Due to the nature of their work, though, they can expect to spend more of their career at sea than on shore.
Historically, AOs could see combat in their roles maintaining weapons on board World War II bombers with large crews. However, as the military has become more streamlined and automated, they have become more of a support role, working on aircraft carrier runways and below deck, putting together weapons and maintaining systems.
Marines and Navy Deployment
Because both the Marine Corps and Navy use aircraft as part of their combat forces, there are opportunities for AOs in both of these branches. Though both branches are deployed on U.S. Navy ships, they would work at different bases.
AOs do not usually reach commissioned officer positions. However, an Aviation Ordnanceman has the potential to rise through the enlisted ranks, eventually arriving at Master Chief.
Training in Florida
All AOs train at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, at a nine-week course. The AO designation requires a five-year enlistment.
As of 2014, an Aviation Ordnanceman earns $1,532 a month when he first joins the Navy or Marines. As his career progresses, he can expect to earn up to $5247 a month, if he is promoted regularly.
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