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Expeditionary logistics team carries the load

by Capt. Catie Hague
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

2/15/2005 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- They "move the mission," keeping the busiest airfield in Afghanistan operational.

They are the 455th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Airmen, and their job is to support all aircraft coming in and out of here, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Last month, we pushed more than 10,000 passengers and 12 million pounds of cargo," said Maj. Rich Fillman, squadron commander. "Per day, that translates into about 300 hundred people and 334,000 pounds of supplies.

"There's very little down time," he said. "We average one aircraft on the ground every hour, 'round the clock."

With seven functional areas, including the passenger terminal, transient alert, supply, fuels, transportation management, vehicle maintenance and the air terminal operations center, the main focus is the ATOC -- loading and unloading passengers and cargo.

"As soon as an aircraft lands, we find out what's coming off the plane, we get on our forklifts and head out to the aircraft," said Airman 1st Class Rodney Calloway, an air transportation specialist. "When the loadmaster opens the door, we drive up to the back of the plane and remove the cargo as quickly and safely as possible."

It usually takes about 15 minutes to unload a C-130 Hercules carrying six pallets, officials said.

"We try to cycle through our five forklifts," said Airman Carlos Reyes, also an air transportation specialist. "It's cold out here, and most of our trucks are convertibles. Our hands and feet tend to get numb, so we drive for about two or three hours and then switch drivers."

The logistics teams' ultimate goal is to move aircraft in and out without delay because of "security reasons and limited parking," Airman Calloway said.

While some of the cargo and passengers remain here, the rest are repalletized or remanifested for other locations.

"We move the mission not only for the Air Force, but for the Army, Marines, Navy and our coalition partners as well," Major Fillman said.

As Airman Reyes said, it is their duty to get things where they need to be, when they need to be there -- all supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

"Bottom line," Major Fillman said, "without the 455th ELRS, the mission at Bagram stops."

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