By Master Sgt. Doug Moore, 445th Airlift Wing
/ Published July 15, 2007
HICKHAM AFB, Hawaii -- The 87th Aerial Port Squadron from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base deployed 145 Airmen to Hickam AFB, Hawaii and took over port operations for two weeks June 30 to July 14, 2007.
Reservists from the 87th APS were responsible for running the Air Terminal Operations Center (ATOC), cargo processing, ramp, fleet, and passenger services, supply functions, and administrative duties normally performed by members of the 735th Air Mobility Squadron based at Hickam AFB.
"We went to Hickam AFB to demonstrate our capabilities in assuming responsibilities of the aerial port operation there," said Lt. Col. Keith Bond, 87th APS commander.
"This was a great opportunity to get some real hands-on training and to learn new procedures and systems from our active-duty counterparts that we can integrate into our training program at home station," he said.
Getting this training in all aspects of port operations was the main objective for the 87th APS when they first started planning for this opportunity back in December of 2005, according to Chief Master Sgt. Robert Jamison, who planned and coordinated this takeover with the 735th AMS team members.
"There were only three port takeovers available within all of Air Force Reserve Command for 2007," said Jamison. "We chose this location for the opportunity to get everyone doing what they would be doing in a wartime scenario," he said. "Everyone would have the actual training and experience in their respective roles so that when we were deployed, it wouldn't come as a surprise to us," Jamison said.
Hickam's busy flight line is an ideal training ground for reservists to experience many aspects of their job that they may not otherwise see on a regular basis. The training has been valuable in all areas of the flight line.
The 735th AMS welcomes a different reserve unit about every two weeks, almost year-round. Usually a team of about 35 servicemembers works together with the 735th AMS team. However, once a year a full complement of about 150 servicemembers arrives to do a full port take over.
This year, however, Wright-Patt reservists are running the show.
In the air terminal operations center (ATOC), the control center of information for everything that is happening on the flight line, team members received first hand experience in the decision making processes necessary to keep things moving on the flight line.
"Working in ATOC Control presented new challenges for us everyday," said Senior Airmen Adam Altenburger. "It was very exciting working here knowing that the decisions we made up in ATOC controlled all aspects of the operations on the flight line," he explained. "It was nice to be in charge of the operations."
"I think we learned a lot from both the civilians and our active duty counterparts in ramp services, as well," said Staff Sgt. Roxanne Rubsam, an 87th ramp services specialist. "They are always willing to step in and help out showing us better ways to do our jobs. Whether we were unloading pallets from a 747 cargo aircraft, a C-17 aircraft, or a KC-135 aircraft, the first hand experience was great," she added.
Senior Airman Justin George, a fork lift operator in cargo processing with the 87th APS said, "Every base has different processes and procedures on how they handle things. The trainers here in cargo services have been very patient in helping us understand how they do things here and were quite helpful in answering questions about things we do not get to do at WPAFB," George said.
"This runway is moving all the time and they process a lot of passengers," said Tech Sgt. Timothy Opp, an 87th air transportation specialist, working in passenger services. "It is very eye-opening," he said, "coming from Wright-Patterson AFB, where as reservists, we don't see that many live missions. It gives us a chance to learn the small things that you can learn only when you are doing the whole job."
Senior Airman Jennifer Bowersock, a passenger services specialist with the 87th APS, agrees. "It is nice to be able to come face-to-face with passengers here at Hickam AFB," she said. "We are able to put all our previous training into practice in these actual real-world missions," she explained.
The Airmen in Fleet Services, who were responsible for servicing the aircraft with pillows, blankets, meals and water, trash collection, and cleaning, among other things, were pleased with the training they received at Hickam.
"We were trained on service vehicles that were not normally available to us," said Tech. Sgt. Samuel Hodge, a fleet services specialist, 87th APS. "Getting first-hand experience using the lavatory services truck, the portable water truck, and the high lift service vehicles when servicing the aircraft that landed here was great," he said.
"Being involved in a port take over operation allows us to understand what our full responsibilities are as active-duty air transportation specialists," Sergeant Opp said. "It allows all of us to see what the end mission is and allows us to be part of something that we don't normally get to be a part of."