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NEWS | Aug. 30, 2017

LRS vehicle operations tackles unique Joint Base missions

By Senior Airman Christian Sullivan Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

When people think of a Logistics Readiness Squadron they may picture Airmen driving buses and transporting visitors, but that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to their responsibilities here.

Airmen of the 628th LRS fulfill their day-to-day LRS mission and support joint partners, providing a crucial capability for the installation.

“We provide transportation for aircrew and move packs and cargo around the base,” said Master Sgt. Jeff Koenig, 628th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations section chief. “We help execute joint logistics to power global and installation support.”

From the outside looking in it may look like the vehicle operations shop only drives distinguished visitors around, but it’s much more than that.

“We directly support the aircrew departure and arrival,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Ross, 628th LRS vehicle operation control center support. “Every time a crew needs transportation to a jet to deliver force down range or locally, we’re the first ones out there to get them on their mission.”

Additionally, they support the vehicle operations sister flight, supply. LRS delivers aircraft repair parts locally and down range.

“Without vehicle operations moving those assets, the maintenance section and the flying mission would be delayed in getting those planes fixed and in the air,” said Ross. “Vehicle operations provide a pivotal role in providing aircrew support and overall aircraft maintenance reliability.”

The shop is authorized 36 Airmen but currently has 26 due to deployments and other mission requirements. Manpower challenges don’t impede their everyday mission, nor their standby team.

“Our 24-hour shop stays on standby for when aircrews come in and when mission capable parts need to be delivered,” said Koenig. “We’re here 24/7 to make sure aircrew is on crew rest as soon as possible.”

Being part of a joint base, the shop has a unique mission supporting the air base, the naval weapons station and other mission partners.

“JB Charleston is the home of the Transportation Isolation System,” said Tech. Sgt. Paul Freebern, 628th LRS vehicle operations control center supervisor. “Our role with it is relatively minor, but we do transport it for training in case of real-world emergencies. It’s a point of pride for us.”

Along with working with the TIS, which is designed to provide aeromedical evacuation for patients with known or suspected exposure to a contagious or infectious disease, their shop also works with the Joint Base Charleston - Weapons station rail system. The system allows munitions to be delivered securely with less of a delay.

“We work hand-in-hand with the naval weapons station,” said Koenig. “We provide crane support as well as rail movement support. You don’t see that in typical ground transportation shops.”

Airmen of the 628th LRS may be the first face foreign dignitaries and distinguished visitors see when visiting JB Charleston. Due to the nature of the transportation mission, LRS Airmen might find themselves in a situation where they can be considered Air Force ambassadors.

“After being in the job for so many years, I see this job as vital. If we weren’t here moving people and cargo, the Air Force would have to contract this job and be forced to spend a lot more money,” said Koenig. “We’re here to provide efficient transportation to the base, the community and to all base visitors.”