JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
More than 30 Airmen from the 437th Airlift Wing and 628th Air Base Wing departed today for Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., to participate in Rodeo 2011, Air Mobility Command's premier mobility competition.
They left amid cheers following a send-off ceremony attended by co-workers, family members and local community leaders.
Rodeo 2011 is scheduled to take place July 23-29.
The event focuses on building international partnerships through competition. Rodeo features airdrops, aerial refueling and other events showcasing the unique and wide-ranging capabilities of airlift and air-refueling aircrew members, maintenance, aerial port, aeromedical evacuation personnel, financial management, contingency response, flight attendants and military security forces.
Charleston's Rodeo Team members have been preparing for this competition for several months and will compete alongside more than 150 teams and 3,000 people from the Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, as well as 35 allied nations.
"I am pleased with the hard work, time and effort Team Charleston has put into preparing their Rodeo Team for this year's competition," said Col. Erik Hansen, 437th Airlift Wing commander. "I'm looking forward to watching them compete!"
Col. Richard McComb, Joint Base Charleston commander, will be attending Rodeo for the first time. He will be joining the team July 26 and accompanying them on their flight back to Charleston July 30.
The 437 AW Rodeo Team chief is Lt. Col. Brady Caldwell, operations officer for the 437th Operations Support Squadron. His responsibilities include organizing the five sub-teams - aircrew, aerial port, maintenance, joint air drop inspectors and fit to fight - into one competitive team.
"I consider this quite an honor to lead such an enthusiastic team who will represent Charleston in this international competition," Caldwell said.
The teams have practiced numerous hours for several months, while at the same time, still accomplishing their primary mission.
"As a first time attendee, I was not aware of the amount of time, effort and work required to prepare for this competition," Caldwell said. "Their efforts and dedication are what I am the most proud of."
The Aircrew Team leader and aircraft commander is Capt. Brock Schnute, 14th Airlift Squadron. Team members are pilots, Capt. Justin West, 16th Airlift Squadron, Capt. Ryan Halligan, 15th Airlift Squadron and loadmaster, Tech. Sgt. Keith Hackney, 15 AS.
The Aircrew Team will compete in the following flying events: airdrop, short field landing and air refueling, plus a non-flying engines running offload event.
The Joint Airdrop Inspectors Team leader is Staff Sgt. Ryan Gewinner, 437 OSS. Team member is Senior Airman Jason Golec, 437 OSS.
The team will be graded on their ability to find discrepancies in heavy equipment airdrop platforms and container delivery system bundles.
The Maintenance Team leader is Master Sgt. Terrence Spradley, 437th Maintenance Group. Primary team members from the 437th Maintenance Squadron, are 1st Lt. Travis Mongeon, Tech. Sgts. Joshua Avelar, Jessy Martin, Allen Minner, Travis Pyle and Eric Ragan; Staff Sgts. Marc Begay, Brandon Padgett and Donald Woytcke and Senior Airman Richard Douglas; and from the 437th Maintenance Squadron, Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Smiddy.
The maintenance competition will evaluate maintainers' ability to keep command aircraft ready to meet operational commitments. They will be evaluated in the following areas: preflight, pre-flight inspection, ground refueling operations and maintenance skills.
The Aerial Port Team leader is Staff Sgt. Matthew Lumm. Primary team members, all from the 437th Aerial Port Squadron are Staff Sgts. Luther Franklin, Nic Sansone, Ashley Kelly, and Senior Airman Marvin Richardson. Tech. Sgt. Jason Gates is the team coach and tent manager and Airman 1st Class Joseph Schlank is an alternate and tent manager.
Aerial port teams ensure equipment and supplies are loaded safely and quickly for airdrop or transport. The team will compete in the following areas: joint inspection, engines running on and offload, aerial port challenge course, in-transit visibility, 10K driving course and K-loader driving course.
The 628th Air Base Wing Rodeo Team chief is Staff Sgt. Adrian Johnson, 628th Comptroller Squadron. His responsibilities are to oversee all preparations for the financial management team.
The Financial Management team leader is Tech. Sgt. Clifton Ancrum. Team members are Staff Sgt. Daniel Garrison and Senior Airman Brittney Knowling from the 628 CPTS and will be competing in Rodeo's first-ever financial management competition.
Caldwell also serves as the Fit-to-Fight Team leader. Other team members, who were chosen by their respective sub-teams, are Capt Brock Schnute, 14 AS, Tech. Sgt. Allen Minner, 437 MXS, Staff Sgt. Luther Franklin and Senior Airman Marvin Richardson, 437 APS. Their competition events include a 1.5 mile run, sit-ups and push-ups.
The Civic Rodeo Team leader is Cheryl Clark, 437th Airlift Wing Honorary Commander. Team members are Bill Moody, 628th Air Base Wing Honorary Commander, Jim Geffert, 437th Airlift Wing Honorary Vice Commander, James Warner, 628th Air Base Wing Deputy Honorary Commander, Graham Drayton, 628th Air Base Wing Honorary Command Chief, Sean Tracey, 437th Operations Group Honorary Commander, Michelle Kelly, 14th Airlift Squadron Honorary Commander, Tonya Conley, 628th Force Support Squadron Honorary Commander, Karen Elsey, 841st Transportation Battalion Honorary Commander, Dottie Karst, President of the Honorary Commanders Advisory Council, Peter Wertimer, Honorary Commanders Advisory Council and Jason Clark Post & Courier Lead Graphics Designer.
The Civic Team is travelling with the Rodeo team and will serve as observers, provide advice and encouragement, attend competitions and cheer the team on as they compete.
The last biennial competition took place in July 2009, with Charleston's team from the 437 AW bringing home several trophies.