NEWS | Jan. 25, 2022

15th Airlift Squadron Airman delivers hope from the skies

By Airman 1st Class Gage Rodriguez 628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

 JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C.--  For most loadmasters, training begins at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, where they receive their initial qualifications. After graduation they arrive at their first duty station and immediately begin upgrade training to acquire their flight hours.

For U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Bradley Roche, upgrade training began before his arrival to Joint Base Charleston, attending loadmaster airdrop certification course prior to getting any operational flight time.

A loadmaster is responsible for properly loading, securing and escorting cargo and passengers onto an aircraft before any flight, while also maintaining and calculating proper weight distribution of the aircraft. This is crucial for flight, as it allows pilots to ensure safe takeoff and landings.

During training, he said he was excited to be challenged so early in his career, while also expanding his knowledge of the C-17 Globemaster III and all of its capabilities.

“My favorite experience during the course was opening up the doors for the first time,” said Roche. “Hearing the command ‘delta p zero doors clear open,’ mid-flight and hitting the button to watch the back of the plane open was amazing to see.”

Roche describes operational airdrop missions as being used mainly to supply and support troops in remote, unconventional deployment locations.

The missions vary from a container delivery system to a more complex dual row airdrop and heavy equipment and personnel; all consisting of dropping cargo mid-flight. 

“If our guys need supplies dropped to them when they're pinned down, the C-17 is able to fly over so we can drop the necessary equipment, safely,” said Roche.

During his time at the 15th Airlift Squadron, Roche plans to use his training to pursue his goal of one day being a loadmaster for C-17 Special Operations (SOL II) with the 437th Airlift Wing.

SOLL II air crew operate a modified version of C-17 Globemaster III, equipped to handle various special missions ranging from insertion, extraction, and resupply of troops as well as night operations, where in some cases air crew need to utilize night vision gear.

Roche defines his upgrade route as unorthodox; however, he plans to continue taking the road less traveled in hopes of bettering himself, inspiring others and accomplishing the Team Charleston mission.