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Rhein-Main sets AMC airlift record

Released: April 9, 2003


By 2nd Lt. Uriah Orland

469th Air Base Group Public Affairs


RHEIN-MAIN AIR BASE, Germany (USAFENS) -- There is little rest at the busiest base in the Air Force.  The 362nd Aerospace Expeditionary Group at Rhein-Main Air Base can make this claim after setting an Air Mobility Command record with 758 C-17 departures in March.


This new record, surpassing their last one set in February by 151 missions, was a total team effort between the 726th Air Mobility Squadron and the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. 


The 817th EAS is comprised of ground support and aircrews primarily from McChord Air Force Base, Wash. and Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.  The 726th AMS is the passenger/cargo processing, maintenance, and command-control function for the airlift mission here. 


The mission requires more than the approximately 40 aircrews on station here, said Lt. Col. Steve Groenheim, 817th EAS commander. 


"There is a lot that goes into making the flights happen," said Groenheim.  "We push the buttons, but these guys (the 726th AMS) make the buttons work."


Lt. Col. David Rodriguez, 726th AMS commander, describes the unit's job as making sure the planes are ready to go.  "Sometimes it looks like an anthill out there (on the flightline), with so many people working to get the planes turned; often in just over three hours time." 


During this turn time, fleet services preps the jet for next load of personnel, maintenance technician check the plane's airworthiness and the maintenance control center calculates the next mission's fuel requirement, all the while a transportation team up-loads and off-loads cargo when necessary.


In July and August, the height of Operation Enduring Freedom, the tempo was about a third of what it is now.  "We have never failed with what AMC has given us," boasts Rodriguez.


Squadron members, like so many others, are working more than 60 hours a week-five days on, two days off.  Maintenance Superintendent, Chief Master Sgt. Bobby Gamsby describes the teamwork occurring as synergy in action. 


"They just continue to get better and better," said Gamsby.  "These 'knuckle busters' are the reason we are so successful.  It's amazing the work they accomplish, and how they sustain this pace without a complaint; day in and day out." 


One such "knuckle buster" is Airman First Class Brandon Russell, an aircraft electrician.  "It's busy," said Russell, about the operations tempo. "But records like this make you feel like you've accomplished something." 


Maj. Greg Endris, a deployed maintenance officer from McChord AFB, was here in November 2001 when Operation Enduring Freedom started. 


"The integration between the permanent party personnel and the temporary duty personnel is what makes records like this happen," Endris said.  "It's great to see the ground work that was laid in 2001 is not just still there, but has improved over time."


Currently the 362nd AEG has 183 permanently assigned personnel and approximately 525 deployed personnel. 


"This is a prime example of the new Air Force structure" Rodriguez said. "There is a small permanent party infrastructure in place, and it's augmented by active duty, reservist and National Guard.  It is becoming a seamless process."


A seamless, and remarkable process, said Groenheim.


"This is a marathon," he said.  "Seven hundred fifty eight missions in a month equates to over 24 missions a day.  That's one mission every hour, day and night.  What other Air Force in the world can do that?" 



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