NORFOLK NAVAL AIR STATION, Virginia --
Airmen from the 87th Aerial Port Squadron performed their annual tour while participating in Patriot Partner July 6-20, 2018 at Norfolk Naval Air Station, Virginia.
Patriot Partner joint exercises are designed for reservists to partially take-over an active-duty aerial port for training purposes as an annual tour. The purpose is to demonstrate the capability of Air Force Reserve Command, Navy Reserve Air Terminal Unit and Navy Cargo Handling Battalions to work together in a real-world aerial port takeover environment, as well as satisfy their wartime requirements to the fullest extent possible in a peace time environment.
During this year’s two-week exercise, the 87th APS worked alongside its Naval counterparts from the Naval Reserve, Navy Air Terminal 207 (NAT 207) and Navy Cargo Handling Battalion (NCHB1) to complete Patriot Partner 2018 July 20th at the Norfolk Air Station’s Navy Operated Air Mobility Command terminal. The military members trained and worked over the two-week period on the daily operation and management of the terminal.
“This was my first annual tour off station with a squadron and my first taste of a joint environment as an officer,” said 2nd Lt. Tyler Mohr, 87th APS ramp services flight commander. “It was an eye opening experience as we had to adjust to the Navy lingo and the Navy’s way of operating,” Mohr said.
Patriot Partner personnel included 45 Airmen from the 87th APS; 24 Sailors from the NAT 207 and 19 Sailors from the NCHB1. The team built nearly 300 Air Force 463L pallets, processed approximately 3,400 passengers, handled nearly 8,000 pieces of luggage and moved approximately 300 tons of cargo.
The lieutenant said his joint team of 88 personnel took over the day-to-day running of the terminal from the civilian employees.
“Even though there were some learning speed bumps early on, it was amazing how quickly our team gelled with our Naval counterparts,” Mohr said. “Mr. James McDonald, senior civilian for the Navy Operated Air Mobility Command Air Terminal and a retired aerial port active duty chief master sergeant, said we were the best team he had seen in nine years. That means a lot.”
Training and safety were some of the key factors the 87th APS Airmen took away.
“We were exposed to significant amounts of quality training that helped better prepare us to be the best possible Citizen Airmen,” said Senior Airman Gabriel Clark. “I learned that our job, like others, requires our full focus at all times.”
“This was an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on-training. I was excited to learn more and more,” said Senior Airman Jacob Dietz. “I also took away that safety is the most important thing when it comes to completing our mission. Materials can be replaced but a wingman cannot.”
Three Airmen from the 87th APS were coined by Commander Ronald Kish, officer-in-charge of the Navy Operated Air Mobility Command Air Terminal, for being top performers during the exercise; Master Sgt. Brian Anders and Senior Airmen Kasch McInnis and Dakota Coniglio.
“Our people worked their tails off for two weeks and the recurring message relayed to leadership was that the mission wouldn’t have been accomplished or as successful if it hadn’t been for all the hard work our joint team accomplished,” Mohr said.