JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The C-17 Globemaster III is the most flexible aircraft to enter the airlift force and is responsible for the rapid, strategic delivery of cargo and troops to main operating bases and those in deployed environments. Have you ever seen one of our C-17s fly overhead and wondered; who loads, rigs and recovers all the cargo spanning the 174-foot long aircraft, and how do they do it? Introducing the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron.
The 62nd APS, or “Eagle Port” as it is affectionately known, serves as the primary port for passenger and cargo shipments in the Pacific Northwest region and supports U.S. Transportation Command, as well as Air Mobility Command, missions for major exercises and deployments worldwide. They’re so proficient with their craft, in fact, the Eagle Port Airmen have put together a team of the best of the best in their trade to compete alongside other port squadrons at the 2021 Pacific Air Forces Port Dawg Rodeo scheduled in August at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Hosted by the 735th Air Mobility Squadron, the competition will judge five areas of aerial port capabilities -- a pallet build-up, 10K forklift skills course, center of balance marking and knowledge test, an aircraft upload and a combat fitness challenge. These challenges were developed to help create training scenarios with concrete operational impact, enhance tactical techniques and procedures while also enhancing air mobility operations and develop closer relationships and esprit de corps with other Port Dawgs within the air transportation community.
The 62nd APS held their Eagle Port Rodeo tryouts in June to pick their representatives and judged the participants based on scenarios that mirrored those of the 2021 PACAF Port Dawg Rodeo. The seven-person team is made up of Senior Airman Trenton Dancer, Senior Airman Connor Dickson, Tech. Sgt. Emmanuel Escobar, Senior Airman Hayden Floyd, Airman 1st Class Clay Huddleston, Staff Sgt. Wesley Valentine and Tech. Sgt. Ronald West.
“Some people have already commented on how happy we look while we are training and they see the fun we are having as a team, so I think that morale and camaraderie is spreading to others and as time goes on it will hopefully motivate others to try out for other teams and events,” said Tech. Sgt. Ronald West, noncommissioned officer in charge of Fleet Operations and Eagle Port Rodeo team lead. “Most of the events we are training for are not tasks that most Airmen get to do on an everyday basis, so it will be a great opportunity to teach some of our less experienced Airmen some tricks of the trade and pass on our knowledge to them while we practice.”
This year’s rodeo will feature allies from three partner nations – Australia, Japan and the Philippines — to help promote the PACAF initiative of enhancing multilateral interoperability and the ability to integrate air mobility. Agile combat employment is a high priority, and working alongside other nations significantly enhances the vision of providing air mobility capabilities and capacity to our nation’s allies and partners.
Port Dawgs are a tightknit group of Airmen who are dedicated to carrying out their mission. The rodeo provides a great way to ensure they stay proficient in their craft and have fun doing so.
“I believe the Eagle Port, as a whole, is extremely excited for the rodeo because of how much history Port Dawgs have with them,” said West. “These events don’t come along as often as they did in the past, so I know a lot of our leadership team and civilians in the squadron are looking back to their own rodeo experiences and it brings back great memories for them to see us train and get ready for this competition. They have been all in since day one to help our team be as prepared as possible. Our ultimate goal is to be the most prepared team the moment we land in Hawaii and we fully expect to score the highest in every event.
“I’m confident that we will be bring home a trophy for Team McChord as well as an amazing experience our team can look back on for the rest of our lives. It’s truly an honor to be able to compete at this level on behalf of Team McChord and the Eagle Port. We have already had so much support from our leadership here and everyone else in the squadron and it feels great knowing that they are always behind us every step of the way as we try to get this win.”