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734th Air Mobility Squadron keeps people, cargo moving

Airman 1st Class James Weimer and Staff Sgt. Allen Rees, 734th Air Mobility Squadron aerial porters, load equipment used for Valiant Shield 2010 on a C-130 Hercules at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Sept. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Nichelle Anderson)

Airman 1st Class James Weimer and Staff Sgt. Allen Rees, 734th Air Mobility Squadron aerial porters, load equipment used for Valiant Shield 2010 on a C-130 Hercules at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Sept. 30. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Nichelle Anderson)

Staff Sgt. Allen Rees, 734th Air Mobility Squadron aerial porters loads essential equipment used for Valiant Shield on a C-130 Hercules at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Sept. 30. The 734th AMS successfully supported Pacific Commands largest exercise, Valiant Shield 2010, while simultaneously executing fighter and tanker unit swap outs and sustained normal Air Mobility Command missions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nichelle Anderson)

Staff Sgt. Allen Rees, 734th Air Mobility Squadron aerial porters loads essential equipment used for Valiant Shield on a C-130 Hercules at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Sept. 30. The 734th AMS successfully supported Pacific Commands largest exercise, Valiant Shield 2010, while simultaneously executing fighter and tanker unit swap outs and sustained normal Air Mobility Command missions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Nichelle Anderson)

Equipment used for Valiant Shield 2010 is loaded onto a C-130 Hercules at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Sept. 30. The 734th Air Mobility Squadron successfully supported Pacific Commands largest exercise here, while simultaneously executing fighter and tanker unit swap outs and sustaining normal operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Nichelle Anderson)

Equipment used for Valiant Shield 2010 is loaded onto a C-130 Hercules at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Sept. 30. The 734th Air Mobility Squadron successfully supported Pacific Commands largest exercise here, while simultaneously executing fighter and tanker unit swap outs and sustaining normal operations. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Nichelle Anderson)

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Airmen from the 734th Air Mobility Squadron Aerial Port rose to the challenge and successfully supported Pacific Command's largest exercise, Valiant Shield 2010, while simultaneously executing fighter and tanker unit swap-outs and sustained normal Air Mobility Command missions.

The 2T2X1s in the Air Transportation career field, "Port Dawgs," are well known for their tenacious work ethic and ability to accelerate people, cargo and aircraft in support of air mobility operations.

The Port Dawgs' work began well before Valiant Shield operations commenced and continued long after the exercise concluded. The team coordinated and executed all aerial port support, working closely with the 36th Wing Installation Deployment Officer and the Logistics Readiness Squadron team, the many units deployed to Andersen, and numerous support agencies.

While the entire aerial port team, made up of 78 military and 30 civilians, rose to the challenge and executed flawless operations, they were quick to identify that it takes an entire Team Andersen effort to execute operations.

"During Valiant Shield, we were supported by the 44th Aerial Port Squadron (AFRC). 1st Lt. Benjamin Guerrero, Senior Master Sgt. Raymond Arceo and Master Sgt. Anthony Toves quickly transitioned to active duty and easily integrated into daily operations," said Capt. Matt Gosselin, Aerial Port Operations officer. "Their efforts were key to air freight operations as they filled critical gaps in vacant leadership positions. We also had fellow Port Dawgs from the 36th Mobility Response Squadron integrate into our team, providing additional load team member and supervisor support."

"This is as close as we come to "war-time" ops tempo and watching my team perform was amazing! The fact that we accomplished so much in such a short time with zero mishaps is truly extraordinary and I couldn't be more proud of our team," the captain said.

The aerial port supports an average of 200 aircraft, 900 tons and 2,000 passengers per month, according to Senior Master Sgt. Benjamin Blackstone, Aerial Port superintendent. During Valiant Shield the port surged and tackled a significant increase in workload.

"We basically did a month's work in 17 days and then repeated the same level of effort 12 days later," said Sergeant Blackstone. "Overall, our Port Dawgs handled 369 aircraft, moved 4,090 passengers, and 3,381 tons of cargo in 30 days! These young men and women, military and civilian, have come together like no other team I've seen in my 18 years of service."

"Their Port Dawg pride was evident by their selfless actions. I couldn't be more proud of what they've accomplished is such a short time. I count myself lucky to be part of such an awesome team," Sergeant Blackstone said.

With a daunting task at hand, the Port Dawgs performed exceptionally and most executed all operations safely, despite working in antiquated facilities that pose significant risk.

"I am constantly impressed with the Port Dawgs performance," said Tech. Sgt. Allison Brown, 734 AMS safety office. "Their job presents an incredible potential for a serious mishap on a daily basis, and even with the confined layout of the freight terminal they have one of the safest operations I've seen in my safety career."

Not all the success was achieved on the ramp or in a warehouse. What most people see are flight line operations, but they may not realize all the planning behind the scenes is essential. Staff Sergeant Michael Lewis and Senior Airman Jessyca Davis, Capability Forecasters assigned to the Air Terminal Operations Center (ATOC), planned and coordinated all port missions. They ensured all requirements were identified and then disseminated the plan throughout the Joint Region.

A significant number of Valiant Shield participants arrived and departed by military aircraft. The AMC terminal personnel worked to coordinate timely duty passenger movement and with ATOC to maximize space available seats.

"Missions don't always stay on schedule causing aircraft to stack up," said Staff Sgt. Rico Perez, Passenger Services Supervisor. "We were prepared to overcome any obstacle. Valiant Shield showed we are capable numerous changes. I have to give it up to our Airmen. They worked 12 to 14-hour shifts and sacrificed their days off to make the mission a success."

Along with people comes cargo to support flying operations. The 50 men and women of the air freight terminal tackled that piece of the aerial port mission. The team, both military and civilian Port Dawgs, executed the safe and efficient upload and download of all cargo and performed critical Joint Inspections for departing cargo. Tech. Sgt. Timothy Chew, NCO-in-charge of special handling, played a major role in executing these operations.

"I couldn't be more proud of our team," Sergeant Chew said. "We inspected 252 increments totaling over 500 tons and loaded 37 aircraft in 15 days without a single port delay. And that's just Valiant Shield support; we also met all our normal AMC missions. 'Amazing' is the only word that can describe the 734th Port Dawgs. They should be very proud of what they have accomplished over the last 30 days."

While balancing Valiant Shield, fighter and tanker unit swaps, and AMC mission requirements may seem like enough, the Port Dawgs also found time to squeeze in world-class distinguished visitor support and continue to be involved across Team Andersen. Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, 18th Air Force commander, visited the 734 AMS on 26 Sep., accompanied by Brig. Gen. Robert Thomas, 15th Expeditionary Mobility Task Force commander, and Col. Stephen Oliver, 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing commander.

"They saw firsthand the importance of Valiant Shield in training how this island comes together to execute the mobility mission required of any exercise," said Lt. Col. G.A. Wettengel, 734 AMS commander. "Additionally, much of the cargo transited through one or more of the six Air Mobility Squadrons under the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing, allowing precise global reach for the War fighter."

"The tremendous team work within the 734 AMS with Port Dawgs, maintainers, and command and control plus the outstanding support from the 36th Wing allow us to operate 'Safely, By the Book, Then On-Time, 24/7," Colonel Wettengel said.

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