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Senior Airman Seth Carpenter, left, drives a 60K Tunner Aircraft Loader away from the a cargo loading dock as Senior Airman Scott Munn directs, Feb. 13, 2012, at Dover Air Force Base, Del. Carpenter and Munn are Ramp Services transporters with the 436th Aerial Port Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jeanette Spain)
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Port Dawgs power the fight 24/7

Posted 2/28/2012   Updated 2/28/2012 Email story   Print story


by Master Sgt. Jeanette Spain
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

2/28/2012 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- Failure is not an option. The war fighter must receive what they need, when they need it, in order to fly, fight and win; in doing so, they protect Americans at home from those who wish to threaten them and their way of life. To accomplish their mission, the war fighter depends on a tireless ally - the 436th Aerial Port Squadron.

Known throughout Air Mobility Command as the "Super Port," the 436th APS's dedicated "Port Dawgs" work around the clock in the most austere weather conditions to deliver more than 15,000 tons of cargo per month to the war-fighting region; their efforts make Dover Air Force Base, Del.,'s aerial port the busiest in the Department of Defense, processing approximately 70 percent of sustainment supplies shipped downrange.

The 436th APS is divided into five flights: Traffic Management, Combat Readiness and Resources, Passenger Services, Air Terminal Operations Center and Air Freight; each contains several shops with specialized and unique missions, all critical to success. One such shop is Ramp Services, responsible for the on-loading and off-loading of cargo from every aircraft that passes through Dover AFB.

"Since 1965, we have never stopped serving our customers," said Staff Sgt. Jason Spencer, a ramp services specialist with the 436th APS. "We do not have business hours, we are always open, and we are always moving cargo."

Prior to shipment, the cargo is organized by destination and stored in a state-of-the-art pallet storage enclosure. The ramp services team follows a sequence of events, which is established for each outbound aircraft - typically a C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III, Boeing 747 or McDonnell Douglas 11 - and outlines cargo pull and load times. Using the inventory control system, the Airmen pull pallets and rolling stock cargo in just under an hour.

A few hours before departure time, the crews receive the final load plan. When the aircraft is ready for upload, the transporters use k-loaders to move the cargo from the staging docks to the airplane.

A significant responsibility is placed on the transporters due to the set requirements they must meet and the sequence of events they must follow. If they bust suspense and delay an airplane, the pilots may lose their diplomatic clearance to overfly or land in a foreign country, forcing the war fighters to wait for supplies required to survive and operate.

"We are committed to getting supplies to the people on the front lines; whether it means providing them with weapons, food or mail from loved ones," said Spencer. "Whatever is needed, we will make sure it gets to them on time, every time. They can count on it."

Ramp Services is comprised of 113 active duty and civilian transporters. At any given time, one-third of the Ramp Services Shop is deployed, increasing the work load for the members left at home station.

It takes 17 people per shift to assemble, transport, and up-load cargo; or download, transport, and store cargo. Ramp Services must always be staffed and prepared to service two aircraft simultaneously, while remaining prepared to handle additional workloads - a task the Port Dawgs perform daily.

"Our young transporters do amazing things every day; no other port comes close to our operations tempo," said Michael Williams, Air Freight operations manager with the 436th APS. Williams is responsible for overseeing the operational performance of every subdivision within the Air Freight flight and has served as an aerial port transporter, enlisted and civilian, for the last 31 years. "None of us can move cargo alone; we need a total team effort."

Through the Port Dawg's teamwork comes a long-standing tradition of pride in the job, the organization and who they are. Outsiders may experience this pride first-hand walking down the halls of the aerial port, where their distinctive call-and-response of "Super - Port," is a common expression of passion for their work.

"I really enjoy my job, but it is the squadron pride that makes me want to come to work every day," said Airman Michael Kirsch, a ramp services transporter with the 436th APS. "Plus, there's nothing more satisfying than knowing my hard work directly aids in fighting and winning the war."

Presently, America stands ready to fight future conflicts abroad, guaranteeing a never-ending demand for a group of dedicated deliverers; as long as there is cargo to move, the 436th APS will work around-the-clock to get the job done, because failure is not an option.

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