Dover AFB hosts first ground transportation rodeo

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Aaron J. Jenne
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Approximately 25 Airmen participated in the first ground transportation rodeo here Dec. 2, 2016.

A total of six, two-man teams from Team Dover’s 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst’s 87th LRS out of New Jersey showcased their abilities during the competition.

“Our career is basically the ground equivalent of air transportation,” said Senior Master Sgt. Donald Clayborn, 436th LRS Deployment and Distribution Flight superintendent. “On April 1, 2017, our career will be renamed to ‘ground transportation,’ so we thought it fitting to name this event after our new title. We planned the rodeo to show our skills at ground transportation, and that’s just what we did.”

Vehicle operators are responsible for managing and scheduling all ground transportation movements, certifying installation commercial-equivalent operators. They also operate tractor trailers, busses, wreckers and forklifts to transport cargo and passengers.

Ground transportation capabilities were evaluated as teams executed rapid, precision operation of a forklift and tractor trailer. Teammates took turns loading containers onto flatbed trailers and maneuvering around obstacles with both vehicles. Each team was evaluated on total time, and although Team Dover put in a valiant effort with a combined time just over 36 minutes, Team MDL vehicle operators won by nearly three minutes.

Representing Team Dover, Senior Airman Antonio Chaviano and Airman 1st Class Benjamin Mantonya placed second with a total time of nine minutes, 21 seconds, while Team MDL’s Senior Airman Patrick Kirker and Staff Sgt. Neal Garrett completed the course in a staggering eight minutes, six seconds.

“Not everyone can drive a tractor trailer or a forklift,” Clayborn said. “I was able to see all of our Airmen demonstrate proficiency in their job. They all did well under the stress of a competition. I’m so proud of them, because I know if I have to send them down range, they could truly excel at their jobs. I know they’ll be able to navigate any obstacles in their path and get their job done safely and quickly.”

Clayborn and Senior Master Sgt. Richard Barker, 87th LRS superintendent, had the idea for this rodeo and a few months later, with the support of the Airmen of both units, made it happen.

“A couple months ago, there were some discussions between the vehicle ops shop here at Dover AFB and JB MDL,” said Lt. Col. Rayna Lowery, 87th LRS commander. “We just had your C-5s, and that gave us a great opportunity to strengthen our relationship. You invited us down for a rodeo, and we were all excited for the chance to compete for bragging rights, validate our training and continue to strengthen our relationships.”

Due to runway construction at Dover AFB, the 436th Airlift Wing’s C-5M Super Galaxy fleet was temporarily relocated to JB MDL. During this time, Team Dover’s vehicle operators had to routinely transport aircraft maintainers and flight crews as well as aircraft parts between the two installations, taking about four hours round trip.

“Teams Dover and MDL have always done a lot of joint missions,” Clayborn said. “When our runway closed, the Airmen of the 87th LRS really came through for us. They literally met us half way with troop and equipment transportation. Their sacrifice saved us countless hours and laid the foundation of a friendship between our two units that is still growing. Now we’re getting a chance to see the fruits of that friendship.”

JB MDL is not the only installation in the area, and event coordinators are excited about the possibilities for next year’s event.

“I’d like to see this get bigger and bigger,” said Lt. Col. Todd Walker, 436th LRS commander. “It’s so easy to work with JB MDL, Joint Base Andrews or any other team in the northeast region. There’s really no limit to what this could become. What better way is there to share the importance of what we do, build friendships and showcase our skills all at the same time?”