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Pacific Lifeline aerial porters keep mission moving

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jennifer Gerhardt
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Logistics planners deployed to Hawaii to participate in the Pacific Lifeline exercise running now through Feb. 9 have been working nonstop to ensure every moving piece of equipment, aircraft and people move smoothly through the airflow system.

The team includes members from the 44th Aerial Port Squadron at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, as well as the 73rd APS based out of the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas.

"These guys have been working 14-hour days with no days off," said 1st Lt. Patrick Lujan, the 44th APS flight commander. "Although it's been challenging to know where every item is every step of the way for cargo and passengers, these guys are working very hard to ensure the missions keep moving."

To do this, it's vital for the aerial porters to be proactive.

"For an exercise like this, if you sit around and wait from something, you are already behind," said Tech. Sgt. Jay Perez, one of the load planners from the 44th APS. "You have to take charge and have initiative to keep the missions moving and on time."

The aerial porters are in charge of everything from cleaning the aircraft, to transporting passengers between job sites, to ensuring pallets are packed, netted and weighted properly before loading it onto the aircraft. They also manifest passengers and cargo for each plane departing and offloading everything that arrives on the aircraft. So far, they have moved more than 600,000 pounds of cargo and more than 1,500 people.

"The most challenging thing we deal with is the constantly changing information," said Sergeant Perez. "You have to stay flexible and be able to multi-task. Every day is different and you need to be able to complete the task."

Within the first week, the aerial porters have worked with the C-17 Globemaster III, C-5 Galaxy, C-130 Hercules and UH-1N Huey.

"The most interesting thing we've done so far is off-load the Huey from the C-5," said Lieutenant Lujan. "But the second most interesting off-load was the ambulance bus."

In addition to moving cargo and passengers around, the aerial porters have also been busy training people on flightline driving, 10K all-terrain forklift driving and pallet build up.

"We noticed people needed some training in different areas," said Lieutenant Lujan. "So we coordinated with those folks and were able to provide them the training."

Pacific Lifeline is a total force exercise designed to practice the military's ability to rapidly deploy a trained, equipped team anywhere in the Pacific in response to a humanitarian assistance or disaster scenario. Approximately 900 Department of Defense personnel are participating in the 13th Air Force-led exercise