'Port Dawgs' living up to 'Anytime... Anywhere' motto

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tracey Piel
  • 908th Airlift Wing
"Anytime ... Anywhere" is the motto of the 25th Aerial Port Squadron. With 27 Airmen deployed to three locations those words have never been truer than they are now.

In Afghanistan, Master Sgt. Cassandra Crayton serves as the superintendent of the Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) Flight at the 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron at Bagram Airfield.

As the only 25th Aerial Porter at that location, Crayton (who recently returned home) led an air transportation team of 14 Airmen who accomplish the STOL mission by moving military passengers, cargo and mail to forward combat locations throughout the region.

"Everyone works together as a team to accomplish the mission and all members have been cross-trained in ATOC, cargo, passenger service and ramp functions," she said. "This is required due to the high tempo of flight operations where multiple aircraft might land and require simultaneous down or uploading."

Crayton's team hand loaded and moved more than 1.8 million pounds of baggage, 38,000 pounds of cargo and 4.4 million pounds of morale mail. During the holidays, the team facilitated forward movement of postal equipment -- in less than 48 hours -- enabling the set up of forward post offices to handle a holiday mass mail move.

The team was also instrumental in the movement of 25 critical maintainers to forward operating bases, which allowed repairs to vital material handling equipment. For their efforts, the team was recognized as the 455th EAPS Team of the Month for December.

The 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron at the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyz Republic, is the current duty assignment for nearly two dozen of the squadron's "port dawgs."

Since October, teams have moved more than 262,000 passengers along with 18,000 tons of baggage into and out of Afghanistan. Although the primary mission of the 376th ELRS is the movement of passengers, aerial porters have loaded more than 6,200 tons of cargo and 270 tons of mail in approximately 3,800 missions.

They have also participated in 24 Fallen Warrior missions.

"The mission in Manas is sustained by a coalition of dedicated airmen from across the globe," said Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Canada, who serves as the 376th Aerial Port Duty Officer. "The men and women of the 25th APS have made an undeniable impact on the overall success in moving the mission down range, and they have taken great honor in returning our fallen heroes home.

"We've accomplished the mission 'hands down!'"

During his deployment, Major Bryan Finefrock (also recently returned) helped to accomplish the mission by filling the demanding and high-visability role of executive officer at the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing.

Back in Afghanistan, Tech. Sgts. Joshua Phillips and Adam Weber and Staff Sgt. Ian Murphy are assigned to ramp function of the 451st ELRS at Kandahar.

They, along with their teams, work six parking ramps - two of which are across the flightline and three miles away from the main warehouse. In addition, the distance between ramps and cargo yards makes staging and loading aircraft a logistical challenge as they are spread out in several locations.

Despite the obstacles, teams average more than 1,000 missions a month and have moved more than 60,000 tons of cargo, 11,068 units of blood and 6,121 bundles. The aerial porters' main mission at Kandahar Airfield is bundle drops that include ammunition, fuel, food and other necessities to military personnel in forward locations.

"Sustaining that lifeline to people downrange is always a top priority regardless of what mission may be on the ground," Phillips said. "We never delay a bundle mission."

On average, the team prepares and loads 40 bundles for drop, but they have pushed as many as 120 bundles or as few as four bundles in a 12-hour shift.

"They call this place the 2T2 Superbowl - if you can do it here you can do it anywhere," Phillips added. "We're all pretty proud of the job we've done."