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Port Dawgs serve on three teams, three overseas locations

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Christopher Carranza
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs Office

Reserve Citizen Airmen of the 403rd Wing’s 41st Aerial Port Squadron recently returned from their deployments to overseas locations.

Three teams of air transportation technicians, aka ‘Port Dawgs,’ spent approximately six months at three locations in Southwest Asia and Africa where they supported their particular expeditionary units with aerial port support.

Port Dawgs handle the air terminal operations center, passenger service, fleet service, ramp, load planning, special handling, aerial delivery and cargo processing. They are the Airmen responsible for transporting passengers and cargo onto and off of aircraft.  

“We were deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and it is the busiest aerial port in the [Area of Operations].” said Tech. Sgt. Taylor Landry, 41st APS air transportation craftsman who worked as a joint inspection special handler. “We perform air worthiness inspections on cargo that needs to be airlifted, such as munitions, medical supplies, and other hazardous materials.”

The special handling section of an aerial port serves as the focal point for hazardous materials movement through military air transportation.

“Throughout the deployment I worked with active-duty and Air National Guard Airmen, we had a true blend of Air Force,” said Landry. “With all the different components under one roof we all worked seamlessly; it was a good time.”

Landry was part of a 23-man team that deployed to Qatar from January to June.

Approximately 1,000 miles away at another aerial port, Staff Sgt. Thuy Dang, 41st APS air transportation journeyman, was working in an air terminal operations center.

“While I was deployed, I worked in the aerial port under the ATOC section,” said Dang. “My primary duties were to coordinate groups, aircraft times and distributing information to all other sections. The best way to describe my duties was that of a dispatcher. I was a liaison between leadership, joint services and our members on the flightline.”

ATOC is the command and control of an aerial port unit that receives and distributes all pertinent information to its applicable section.

In addition to her duties, Dang said she was able to help design a blueprint for a future lodging and sustainment area building and paint a t-wall with a mural of her deployed unit.

“I’m a full time student at the University of South Alabama and my major is in graphic design, so being able to assist in the planning of a future lodging and sustainment area facility was really neat,” said Dang.

Dang was one of 13 Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 403rd Wing who deployed to Southwest Asia from February to August.

At another air base 3,800 miles away, Tech. Sgt. Olalekan Adewale, 41st APS air transportation craftsman, was living and working out of a tent throughout his deployment.

“We had such a small number of people that we did not have a specific shift. We were on call 24/7, and each of us could perform various functions,” said Adewale. “Any of us could do ‘PAX’ [passenger services], cargo, or ramp services, which is what we did primarily.”

Aside from the hot days and nights, Adewale said one of his most memorable experiences during his deployment was a school supply drop he was able to participate in.

"We went to a few local schools with school supplies and it was a humbling experience for me,” said Adewale. “We have a lot we take for granted. I have more appreciation for what we have here at home.”

Despite the living and working conditions, Adewale said attitude dictates a deployment.

“A deployment is what you make of it,” he said. “If it gets rough, stay motivated you’ll get through it. It all depends on your attitude.”