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Dover Heads West for AMC Rodeo

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace
  • 436th AW Public Affairs
A band of Airmen, their knuckles stiff, gloves worn through and brows dripping sweat after a grueling 12 hours of combating a turbo-fan engine, scurry across the airfield with their toolboxes in hand. Yellow lights flash overhead as aerial porters taxi their k-loaders back to the docks. The security forces stand alert and vigilant, ensuring nobody crosses their red line.

Suddenly, the thundering sound of mighty
C-5 engines rumble loudly, breaking the silent egress of the crews and piercing the still Washington air. - No clowns, no hats, no bronc riding, just good 'old, hard-core Airmanship - and we call this thing the Rodeo.

"First and foremost, we want to win," said Maj. Michael Turner, whose been preparing his rodeo crew to represent the Eagle Wing at the 2007 Air Mobility Command Rodeo 2007 held at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., Sunday through July 27. "All of Dover is behind us and we'd like to bring several trophies back for Team Dover to celebrate."

The competition will be challenging:

Dover's band of warriors, comprised of Airmen from the Operations, Maintenance and Mission Support Groups, will have the difficult task of proving to be best, competing for 18 separate awards, said Major Turner, a 9th Airlift Squadron pilot who was hand-picked to lead his Dover brethren to victory at the event.

The leader expressed confidence in the ability of his team.

"Each unit of the wing has come together to help us compete against the rest of AMC," he said. "Our Rodeo Team has been working together extremely well, in large part, due to the vast support and cooperation from Team Dover."

MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. won the 2005 Rodeo, and will prove to be a worthy adversary this year also. But, the competition goes beyond MacDill.

There are 55 teams competing for the trophies. Fourty-five teams will hail from the U.S., including three from the Marine Corps and one from the Coast Guard. Another 10 international teams will be competing, including teams from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Netherlands, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

"There are a lot of great competitive teams out there," said Master Sgt. Samuel Louie, 436th Aerial Port Squadron and aerial port team leader.

The key is to work as a team, said Sergeant Louie, a veteran of three rodeos.

"We will be bringing our 'A game,'" he said. "We just need everything to be perfect. There are too many variables. I have had injuries and malfunctioned equipment cost the team many points."

Despite the stiff competition, Dover has a long tradition of being an award-winning base and is expected to shine at Rodeo as well.

"We believe that we're well prepared for the upcoming competition and know we have really melded as a team," said Major Turner. "Obviously, there are a number of great (teams competing). However, we believe that our skill will outshine the other competitors."

Four teams are training; preparing for victory:

"It all starts with our maintenance team," said Major Turner, whose team has been training hard since May 1. "They have worked feverishly to get the Rodeo bird in excellent condition."

Also, the aircrew team has flown several air-to-air training sorties and coordinated engine-running offloads with the aerial port team.

"We'll only have one shot to shine," said Sergeant Louie, who competed on Dover's aerial port team in the 2005 Rodeo. "We will go and show them our best."

The porters and loadmasters have done numerous C-5 static cargo loads and offloads to achieve an extremely competitive time.

The security forces team has spent numerous overtime hours at the firing range, pinpointing their accuracy and also training physically.

"Right now, we're basically just honing our skills and making final adjustments for the competition," said the major. "While we have all been working hard in our own areas of responsibility, we have also come together to organize fund raisers, physical training sessions and a cookout for the Wing's Motorcycle Safety Day. We're bonding as a team."

The Judgment:

All teams are scored in five categories based on real-world scenarios. The overall score is comprised of 50 percent aircrew team, 20 percent maintenance team, 12 percent aerial port team, eight percent security forces team and two percent Fit to Fight physical fitness competition.

"The aircrew flies one day-receiver air-refueling sortie and one night-receiver AR sortie and must have less than 20 minutes of contact time per flight," said Major Turner. "Points are deducted for disconnects and being early or late. Also, points can be deducted for takeoffs or landings more than a minute late."

The maintenance team is judged on preflight, post flight and AR events.

The aerial port team is scored on engine-running on or offloads, joint inspections with hazardous materials crews, in-transit visibility, forklift and Halvorsen driving competitions and a confidence endurance course.

The security forces team is graded on combat tactics, combat endurance and combat weapons-firing events.

Lastly, the team leader - plus nine randomly selected team members, must complete the Air Force fitness test.

A leader's recipe for success:

Henry Ford said, "Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."

The Eagle Wing's team leader is counting on his group's teamwork being the key to their success at the Rodeo. He said, "Dover is made of winners!"

"We're a sharp group that represents the best that Team Dover has to offer," said Major Turner. "Dover Air Force Base can take pride in how well the Rodeo Team has bonded over the past few months. This is a direct reflection of how well Team Dover operates."

The team is scheduled to depart for McChord Air Force Base Saturday. They will return home July 29. With their hard work and the Dover spirit, they are hoping to bring home more cargo than they left with - a pallet full of trophies.