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News > Liberty Wing “Portmasters” live up to their name
Liberty Wing “Portmasters” live up to their name

Posted 3/12/2013   Updated 3/12/2013 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Kelch
46th Aerial Port Squadron

3/12/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Since last September, about 45 members of the 46th Aerial Port Squadron here have been deployed to the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyz Republic, where one of the unit's main missions is moving coalition personnel and cargo into and out of Afghanistan.

The Liberty Wing members constitute more than half of the aerial port force for the 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron. The team operates in three work centers: passenger services, air terminal operations center and air freight.

"I love getting to work with the people, to see the troops every day, to see the energy they have for coming home," said Senior Airman Ashley Nolan, 376th Passenger Services. "Knowing that we're sending them home is the best feeling in the world."

The "Portmasters" have met several challenges while overseas. The team transferred more than 2,800 passengers in less than 24 hours with less manning than previous rotations. They also assisted with the movement of more than 3,000 coalition troops through the Transit Center.

In three months, these Airmen moved nearly 1,500 tons of cargo and 145,000 personnel despite the freezing weather conditions.

Equipment can freeze and shutdown in temperatures as low as minus 24 degrees Fahrenheit.

"The negative degree temperatures, snow and ice (have) been one of (the) biggest hardships since (arriving)," said Tech. Sgt. Dario Richards, 376th ELRS.

To ensure safety, the aerial porters have to adhere to the work-rest cycles to mitigate exposure to the cold.

The Dover reservists also underwent a six-week audit, which included around-the-clock observations of the team's processes and operations. The Air Force Audit Agency's inspection resulted in zero findings or recommendations for improvement.

For their efforts, Special Operations Forces and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have recognized 376th ELRS Airmen, and many have been coined by distinguished visitors for their exemplary customer service to transient fellow service members.

The Portmasters, themselves, are scheduled to rotate out in the spring, leaving behind a legacy of expeditionary excellence in aerial port operations.

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