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Hill Airman Finds Solace in Cars

Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector and car enthusiast, gets in his 1998 Nissan 240SX on Antelope Island, Utah, Feb. 2, 2020. His 240SX has a 2JZ-GTE engine from the fourth-generation Toyota Supra and gets more than 500 horsepower to the wheels, reliably. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarrod M. Vickers)

Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector and car enthusiast, gets in his 1998 Nissan 240SX on Antelope Island, Utah, Feb. 2, 2020. His 240SX has a 2JZ-GTE engine from the fourth-generation Toyota Supra and gets more than 500 horsepower to the wheels, reliably. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarrod M. Vickers)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector, poses for a photograph in the sheet metal shop at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Feb. 6, 2020. Before joining the Air Force, Bunn spent most of his weekends at the drag strip racing. He continues his passion for cars more than 2,000 miles away from where it all began. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarrod M. Vickers)

Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector, poses for a photograph in the sheet metal shop at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Feb. 6, 2020. Before joining the Air Force, Bunn spent most of his weekends at the drag strip racing. He continues his passion for cars more than 2,000 miles away from where it all began. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarrod M. Vickers)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector, checks prior toolbox inspection dates at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Feb. 6, 2020. Checking previous inspections verifies that members are adhering to inspection schedules and accounting for their tools on a regular basis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarrod M. Vickers)

Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector, checks prior toolbox inspection dates at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Feb. 6, 2020. Checking previous inspections verifies that members are adhering to inspection schedules and accounting for their tools on a regular basis. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarrod M. Vickers)

Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector, performs administrative work at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Feb. 6, 2020. When he isn’t on the flight line or in back shops inspecting maintenance operations, he inputs inspections, routes incident reports, reviews regulations and operating instructions to better-serve Airmen on the flight line.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarrod M. Vickers)

Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector, performs administrative work at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, Feb. 6, 2020. When he isn’t on the flight line or in back shops inspecting maintenance operations, he inputs inspections, routes incident reports, reviews regulations and operating instructions to better-serve Airmen on the flight line. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarrod M. Vickers)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector and car enthusiast, drives to Antelope Island, Utah, Feb. 2, 2020. On his off-time, Bunn turns wrenches on his 1998 Nissan 240SX drag car. He uses the car as a learning opportunity to teach his daughters about cars and carry on the family hobby. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarrod M. Vickers)

Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector and car enthusiast, drives to Antelope Island, Utah, Feb. 2, 2020. On his off-time, Bunn turns wrenches on his 1998 Nissan 240SX drag car. He uses the car as a learning opportunity to teach his daughters about cars and carry on the family hobby. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Jarrod M. Vickers)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah --

Pantera plays faintly in the background as metal clangs against metal. A dim shop light paints the bare drywall and Brandon can see his breath, even with the garage door shut.

“The stress relief of tuning out the world and turning wrenches is unlike anything else,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon Bunn, a 388th Maintenance Group quality assurance inspector.

Bunn shares this hobby with his wife, Kylie, and daughters, Vera and Adele. 

“I have been around cars and mechanics for as long as I can remember,” said Bunn. “My dad was a gear head always building fast cars, and naturally I followed behind him. Now that I have kids, I enjoy getting them involved as well.” 

“Our daughter, Vera, absolutely loves her ‘daddy’s race car,’” said Kylie. “I love that Brandon can share his knowledge and passion for cars with her.” 

Ever since he received his driver’s license, Bunn worked on cars and drove them to the track on the weekends to earn a second income. 

“Before the military, I spent a lot of time traveling around Florida racing cars every weekend,” Bunn reminisced. “[You’d meet] all kinds of people [and race] for big money.”

That passion eventually led Bunn to pursue a master technician position at Nissan. He said after years of turning wrenches and dealing with customers, he wanted to do something more. 

“My grandfather was a Navy SEAL,” said Bunn. “I thought ‘why not?’ Let’s follow in his footsteps. I signed up to go into the Battlefield Airman program.” 

After three years, two attempts at training and 10 months on crutches, the Air Force Personnel Center classed Bunn to be an aircraft maintainer on the F-35A Lightning II. 

“I was excited to be doing something mechanical,” Bunn said. “I was able to bring my mechanically-inclined mindset to my Air Force career, which helped a ton!”

He finally made his way to his first duty station at Hill Air Force Base in April of 2015.

“I’ve done my best to be successful and raise a beautiful family. So far, I’ve been very fortunate with opportunities of making rank, traveling and meeting some great people.” 

Brandon is fortunate enough to share those experiences with his family as they travel the United States. 

“Brandon’s time in the Air Force allowed us to experience some incredible adventures,” said Kylie. “We’ve really enjoyed our travels so far and we’re looking forward to new bases to explore!”

Whether they’re in Florida, Utah, or find themselves stationed overseas, one thing will remain the same: Brandon will always be wrenching on something in the garage with classic metal playing in the background.