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NEWS | June 26, 2013

Aircraft Loadmasters recognized as AFAs Team of the Year

By Senior Airman Dennis Sloan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

The Air Force Association proudly announced the AFA 2013 Team of the Year March 29, 2013, honoring the Aircraft Loadmaster career field and singled out a 437th Airlift Wing loadmaster from Joint Base Charleston as a representative of the distinguished career field.

Each year, the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, along with the major command-level command chief master sergeants, selects a specific Air Force career field to be recognized as the "Team of the Year."

They then select professionals within that career field who clearly display superior technical expertise, attract the praise of their superiors and provide leadership and inspiration to others.

Master Sgt. Erin Manley, 15th Airlift Squadron loadmaster superintendent, was one of those chosen as a leading member of the AFA 2013 Team of the Year. Only four other loadmasters from across the Air Force were chosen to represent the career field.

"This award is for an entire AFSC," said Manley. "All loadmasters, on all airframes across Air Mobility Command spent a lot of time away from family and friends supporting world-wide missions that contributed to their recognition for a job well done."

Manley distinguished herself as an exceptional Loadmaster and an essential member while training the Afghan Air Force on a deployment to Southwest Asia in 2012.

"For me, the award stemmed from our joint efforts training an Afghan Air Force flying Squadron to be C-27A Loadmasters," said Manley. "My efforts represent a minor portion of awesome work done every day by loadmasters across AMC."

During her deployment to Southwest Asia in 2012, Manley provided unrivaled instruction to the Afghan Air Force Loadmasters as the first female Instructor Loadmaster Advisor. She made history by certifying the first two Afghan Instructor Loadmasters thus enabling the transition of airlift operations to an autonomous Afghan Air Force.

"Our goal was to train the Afghans to be self-sufficient and we achieved that," said Manley. "With the two instructors, they can now begin to train one another which will lessen our need to be there. That deployment was my proudest and favorite moment in my military career so far."

The loadmaster profession involves being responsible for supervising the loading and unloading of cargo, vehicles and people on a variety of aircraft.

Staff Sgt. Travis Miller, 15th AS loadmaster, works alongside Manley and has flown with her on a variety of missions.

"I have had the honor to learn from Master Sgt. Manley not only as a superintendent, but as a loadmaster as well," said Miller. "She is an excellent loadmaster as well as a superintendent who takes the time to get to know both, those who work for her, and those who she works for."

Loadmasters perform their duties during extensive trips to areas all over the world. A loadmaster's duties include mathematically preplanning the correct placement of the load on the airplane, providing passenger comfort and safety, securing cargo and taking part in airdrop operations. Loadmasters are on flying status as an aircrew member and are required to fly as part of the job.

"I believe our job is very important since the aircraft would not even be able to take off without us properly balancing the load," said Miller. "Without us, the Air Force would not be able to get food, ammo or even medical supplies to all the troops who are serving in the desert.

"These Airmen exhibit what it means to perform above and beyond the call of duty in order to protect, serve, and honor our country," said George Muellner, AFA Chairman of the Board. "This career field plays an essential role in the United States Air Force by providing detailed support to every mission we fly. We congratulate the 2013 Team of the Year and we thank them for their exceptional service."

"We are honored to have the opportunity to highlight these Airmen who embody the core values of our USAF: integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do," said Craig McKinley, AFA President. "These professionals are dedicated to their careers and their example motivates us all. They engage in every aspect of their job and are committed to providing top quality in all that they do."