Tech. Sgt. Ted Braun, 437th Aerial Port Squadron air transportation specialist, sorts through pallet straps at the port’s warehouse Dec. 11. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Sam Hymas)
Airman 1st Class Russell Berry (left) and Airman 1st Class Johnathan Lemond, 437th Aerial Port Squadron air transportation specialists, discuss aircraft loading procedures while loading a Boeing 747 on the flightline in the early morning hours Dec. 13. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Sam Hymas)
CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. —
The 437th Aerial Port Squadron is one of three finalists for the Air Force Large Terminal Unit of the Year for 2006.
The other units competing for the award are the 723rd Air Mobility Squadron at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and the 60th Aerial Port Squadron at Travis AFB, Calif.
A team of four judges from Air Mobility Command Air Transportation at Scott AFB, Ill., spent six hours here Wednesday to look at the squadron's mission accomplishments, innovative management accomplishments, personnel quality of life programs and effective use of transportation resources.
"The 'Port Dawgs' have repeatedly answered the call all year and truly deserve to be recognized as the Air Force's best aerial port," said Lt. Col. John Pepin, 437 APS commander.
"No other aerial port moves more channel cargo nor does it as effectively and efficiently as the port here at Charleston AFB," he said.
Over the past year, the 437 APS supported two unified commands and moved 85,000 tons, 26,000 passengers and supported 10,000 missions -- all accomplished with a 99.5 percent transportation on-time rate.
As the No. 1 logistics pipeline for nine Operation Iraqi Freedom channel missions, the squadron conducted 48 percent of U.S. Central Command's total air cargo movements from the continental U.S. and shipped 53 percent of total tonnage.
The 437 APS also built 9,000 pure pallets with a 99.6 percent compliancy rate and had a 99.9 percent Radio Frequency Identification tag compliance rate on pallets -- both the top efforts in the command.
The squadron was also awarded the AMC Inspector General's "team award" during the 2006 AMC Unit Compliance Inspection.
In an historic achievement, the 437 APS created and ran the first C-17 Aerial Port Expeditor program, or APEX, a three-week course that trained APS Airmen to provide the capability for aerial ports to on- and off-load all types of cargo without the presence of a loadmaster.
In another example of innovation, which led to an AMC benchmark, the squadron created a program to expedite the aircraft load planning process, which slashed man-hours by 75 percent.
The unit saved $440,000 in airlift assets by executing a movement plan that diverted more than 100 tons of cargo from air to surface movement. Their award-winning transportation management office also cut $83 from each move, saving the Air Force $102,000 over the course of the year.
Working towards improving personnel quality of life, the squadron improved its dormitories and recreational areas and revitalized its recognition and training programs for its Airmen.