JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Two hundred and forty-two deploying service members processed through the Joint Base Charleston Passenger Terminal enroute to their deployed locations Oct. 15 and 17, 2018, in support of the Naval Station Norfolk air terminal while their airfield undergoes scheduled maintenance.
Members of the 437th Aerial Port Squadron worked with U.S. Transportation Command, Norfolk and several units across the installation to coordinate and accomplish the large-scale movement.
“Due to planned runway closures at Naval Station Norfolk, U.S. Transportation Command diverted passenger missions to JB Charleston,” said Lt. Col. Karen Rupp, 437th APS commander. “We were selected to take on these missions due to our close proximity and ability to expeditiously move cargo and people to their destination. Despite the space limitations of our temporary passenger terminal, our Airmen accepted the challenge and did a phenomenal job facilitating this movement.”
Charleston served as one of several regional hubs temporarily assisting in the deployment of service members overseas, which normally aggregate at Norfolk.
“We’re accustomed to processing passengers for movement via military airlift. We don’t routinely support commercial passenger movements,” said Master Sgt. Kathryn Wood, 437th Aerial Port Squadron Passenger Operations Flight chief. “Airmen willingly banded together to form one big team to get the mission done.”
With JB Charleston’s Passenger Terminal under construction, the passenger operations flight had to overcome challenges of operating out of a smaller, temporary facility located away from the flightline. They partnered with the 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron Installation Deployment Officer to oversee this complex operation.
“This took the combined effort of both wings,” said 2nd Lt. Nicholas Maher, 437th Aerial Port Squadron Passenger Operations Flight commander. “In particular, the 628th LRS and IDO painstakingly coordinated with 47 units to gather relevant passenger details to allow the aerial port to accurately manifest personnel for airlift. Additionally, the LRS Vehicle Management Flight was instrumental in repairing the base’s sole baggage conveyor in less than 24 hours, mitigating any delays.”
As deploying service members arrived to the passenger terminal, the Passenger Operations Flight worked to check them in and screen them and their baggage to comply with Transportation Security Administration policy. Once all the passengers were processed, the team, along with six volunteers, departed to the aircraft to load the baggage. After manually loading the baggage into the aircraft’s lower compartment, the volunteers had a newfound appreciation for “Port Dawgs” and their efforts.
“The success of this mission was a true testament to the hard work and determination of our Airmen and their ability to seamlessly execute the mission safely,” said Rupp. “JB Charleston stands ready to support our nation’s needs for rapid global mobility, anytime, anywhere.”