JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Joint Base Charleston is home to the 437th Airlift Wing, which is responsible for 48 C-17 Globemaster IIIs, and provides a significant portion of Air Mobility Command’s global reach airlift capability.
A discreet part of the 437th AW’s mission, is the 437th Aerial Port Squadron, which provides responsive global cargo and passenger movement operations while cultivating combat-ready Airmen.
“Our role is to get cargo on the aircraft so the aircrews can get it where it needs to be,” said Staff Sgt. Preston Harris, 437th APS shift supervisor. “We support the mission downrange, stateside and anywhere, really.”
When cargo arrives at the aerial port, the APS Airmen, known as “port dawgs” are responsible for inspection, inventory and palletization of each piece. After being palletized, the port dawgs move the cargo to the aircraft and assist the loadmasters in securing it in the aircraft so missions can happen.
“I’ve seen everything go through here,” said Airman 1st Class Matthew D’Ostroph, 437th APS air cargo services technician. “I’ve seen food and water, vehicles, computers, anything people need.”
Port dawgs don’t have the luxury of workload predictability. When unexpected events such as natural disasters strike, they jump into action and get emergency items ready to be shipped immediately.
“We’re port dawgs,” said Harris. “We overcome anything to get the job done. We take on any challenge, nothing’s going to stop us.”
When hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma struck this year, the 437th APS conducted 24-hour operations to help people in the areas struck by the storms.
“I was here for the humanitarian missions during hurricane season and we sent massive amounts of supplies,” said D’Ostroph. “We sent almost 240,000 pounds of water to Puerto Rico. We were non-stop loading and unloading to get supplies to those in need.”
In addition to natural disasters, the 437th APS moves cargo for various approved non-governmental humanitarian programs through the Denton Program.
The Denton Program provides transportation for humanitarian assistance commodities destined for approved countries.
“The Denton Program is a unique and beneficial program, which sends assets to impoverished nations,” said 1st Lt. Rebecca Ryti, 437th APS air freight flight commander. “We palletize the cargo and ship it out on a space available basis once the items have been approved for shipment through the Denton Program managers.”
The unpredictability of the job and being able to see the positive effect on people’s lives leaves the port dawgs satisfied with their work.
“It’s good to be able to see what we’re doing,” said Harris. “It’s motivating to be able to help these countries and places in need.”
For more information about the Denton Program, call 963-6423.