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Balad aerial port bests cargo movement record

by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
332nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

12/17/2007 - BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq -- The 332nd Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron Aerial Port Flight broke the single-day cargo-movement record here Dec. 6.

The aerial port Airmen surpassed the previous record set in 2006 by more than 100 tons, moving 930 tons of cargo from 77 aircraft.

"It's not surprising we broke the record, we have a great ramp team out here and we're always moving cargo," said Airman 1st Class Paula Putrino, a 332nd ELRS aerial porter. "I know we would have never set the record if we hadn't worked so well together. Teamwork plays a huge part in our job. Without it I think it would be chaos on the flightline."

"We had every loader on the line moving cargo that day," said Master Sgt. Eric Pieper, the 332nd ELRS Aerial Port Flight superintendent of air freight. "If it wasn't in maintenance, it was in use. We had 23 drivers loading and unloading."

With 23 drivers moving cargo, aerial porters unloaded eight aircraft including three C-17 Globemaster IIIs in less than an hour and a half. 

The Manpower Office allots them a specific amount of time per aircraft. They have 90 minutes to unload one C-17, Sergeant Pieper said.

"That's a big accomplishment for our Airmen," he said.

To move cargo, the flight used aircraft cargo loaders, capable of carrying three to six pallets at a time. The cargo loaders were close enough to each other to create an assembly line to move the palletized cargo. Loading everything from meals-ready-to-eat to mine resistant ambush protected vehicles.

"The cargo we move directly affects how many people on the ground have to use convoys," said Chief Master Sgt. Adriene Benton, the 332nd ELRS Aerial Port Flight chief of operations. For every 240 tons airlifted, 24 trucks and 52 troops are spared a trip on a dangerous road," she said.

"By moving 1.86 million pounds of cargo we prevented about 208 troops from having to take 96 trucks across some dangerous highway," the chief said.

In November, the aerial porters moved an average of 480 tons a day, totaling nearly 30 million pounds of cargo for the month.

"I feel my part, as well as this job, plays a huge role in the war effort. If we don't do our job, other bases would never receive their supplies they need," said Airman Putrino.

"It was an awesome feeling getting that much done in a day," the chief said. "The whole team was awesome."

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