WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
During their August 2021 annual tour at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 87th Aerial Port Squadron were tasked with supporting the current mission in Afghanistan while working alongside their active duty counterpart hosts from the 437th Aerial Port Squadron.
Initially, the 87th was scheduled to undergo training at Joint Base Charleston. They arrived at the base expecting to sharpen their skills through training maneuvers. Instead, they would be called upon to use their skills to reinforce the 437th APS in a real-world situation.
“Everyone was ready for this mission and ready to be a part of what was going on,” said Master Sgt. Jason M. Cordle, an Air Terminal Operations Center representative with the 87th APS. “We were there to work and there was no hesitation when we were needed. I’m glad we were in the right place at the right time to help support the 437th because it was a very good experience,” Cordle said.
Aerial ports are responsible for all management and movement of cargo and passengers. They not only load and unload aircraft, but they also manage the associated logistical planning including weighing cargo, organizing passengers and inspecting equipment entering the aircraft. Over the annual tour, the 87th APS helped active duty Airmen move large amounts of cargo, several hundred vehicles and thousands of personnel bound for Afghanistan. The positive impact of aerial port training and preparation was immediately apparent.
“One thing was significant was that we were able to provide the active duty an immediate return on investment,” said Senior Master Sgt. Michael J. Eonta, superintendent of programs with the 87th APS. “They got to see the product of the training that they provided for us as we worked side-by-side with them. Our sections worked seamlessly and effectively with active duty, and together we were able to do a fantastic job,” Eonta said.
The 87th APS played a significant role in fulfilling the mission at Joint Base Charleston. Not only were they able to complete the tasks presented to them, but they were able to do so with a sense of timeliness and professionalism. The quality of the support they provided to the 437th was lauded by the command at Charleston and back at Wright-Patterson upon their return.
“The attitudes of our Airmen were incredible,” said Eonta. “They were proud of what they were doing, and their hard work and positivity definitely made an impact.”
The 87th APS was given the opportunity to make an impact, and they succeeded with multiple Airmen being recognized for the assistance they provided. The squadron’s annual tour highlighted not only the responsibilities associated with service and how Airmen must be ready to answer the call to service at any time, but also how the training Airmen undertake on a monthly basis prepares them to excel.
“It feels great to know that our collective efforts made an impact,” said Staff Sgt. Gabriel Clark, ramp services specialist with the 87th APS. “We had an opportunity to show that we hold ourselves to the highest standard. It’s a great feeling knowing that we succeeded at that,” Clark said.