WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio --
Like other 445th Airlift Wing units, the 87th Aerial Port Squadron must ensure its members meet rigorous job-related training requirements. The training task lists can be daunting, so squadron leadership created a semi-annual, all-hands event known as “The Port Dawg Challenge.”
During the May unit training assembly, more than 130 members of the squadron gathered in friendly competition.
“Training like this helps us become better, more experienced aerial porters,” said Tech. Sgt. Aaron Fisher, load planning craftsman. “We often train within our individual duty sections, but this round-robin style of training gives us the opportunity to hone our skills in other areas of the career field.”
The 10 teams of Airmen competed in nine events, culminating in more than 1,000 training tasks achieved in a single day, explained Senior Master Sgt. Robert Rowe.
“Many of the skills incorporated in the events carry over from different duties within our career field,” said Fischer. “These are critical skills for mission readiness, and practicing even one skill helps us perform better on other tasks when we are out working real-world missions,” Fisher conc.
Challenges like this also help newer Airmen learn how to accomplish mission-essential tasks as a team. Earlier this year, six Airmen from the 87th competed in an Air Force-wide competition for aerial porters which incorporated leadership from Air Mobility Command and Air Force Reserve Command.
“We travelled to Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, to compete against 26 other teams from across all components of the Air Force, and even a Royal Air Force team,” said Master Sgt. Jon Webber, senior non-commissioned officer of load planning and team chief for the competition.
The 87th's team this year was made up of first-year competitors.
“We placed first in several individual components of the challenge, and earned fifth place overall, behind three returning champions and an active duty team,” Webber said. “In the end, we had the opportunity to excel at our jobs in front of AFRC and represent the 445th Airlift Wing well.”
Although the challenges are designed to be fun and build teamwork, they also hold significant training value for new and experienced Airmen alike.
“When we compete against teams from other bases, we have the chance to learn the best practices across the Air Force and further enhance the quality of the training we’re doing here at home station,” Fisher said.