KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
The 41st Aerial Port Squadron’s annual Port Dawg Challenge took place over the Oct. 2-3 Unit Training Assembly here with around 50 Reserve Citizen Airmen competing to win.
Organizing this year’s event was Master Sgt. Taylor Landry, noncommissioned officer in charge of special handling and acting first sergeant of the 41st APS.
“This is a great way for us as a squadron to figure out any shortcomings in training and also enhance our esprit de corps through friendly competition,” Landry said, “It gives an opportunity to see what we need to work on in a fun environment as opposed to just sitting around reviewing training material.”
The five teams formed this year were: Team Solo Hans, Team Rapid Fire, Team Ironclad, Team K is for Qatar, and Team Top Dawgz.
It was the very first Port Dawg Challenge for Senior Airman Jemyra Smith of Team Top Dawgz, the event’s top scoring team.
“It took me back to my (Career Development Courses) that I finished a year-and-a-half ago,” Smith said. “Some of that material started to fade, so this was a good refresher.”
The six events for the 2021 Port Dawg Challenge were: forklift driving, load pull/set up, vehicle upload, pallet buildup, and a fit-to-fight challenge with knowledge quizzes after each section.
Landry explained that the Port Dawg Challenge is based on an event known as “the rodeo” that began in the active duty Air Force. While rodeos allow cowboys to compete in livestock riding and roping categories to improve their work skills, the Port Dawg Challenge event does the same for aerial port professionals.
The event was adopted by the Air Force Reserve as a competition among other aerial port squadrons. The 41st APS will put their highest scoring team from their challenge into the AFRC contest coming up in April 2022.
Landry has nearly 12 years in the APS career field now and he likes the tradition of the Port Dawg Challenge.
“I have two deployments under my belt, so I based this on things I’ve seen ‘out in the wild,’” he said. “We’ve set this up for our young tech and staff sergeants to have an opportunity to lead in terms of doing the job and teaching the job as well.”
The first-place 41st APS Team Top Dawgz members include: Tech. Sgt. Charles Williams, air terminal operations center representative, Airman 1st Class Catherine Vu, air transportation apprentice, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Willig, air transportation craftsman, Staff Sgt. Seth Merrifield, air transportation journeyman, Tech. Sgt. Tamara Gray, air transportation craftsman, Airman 1st Class Matthew Geis, air transportation journeyman, Senior Airman Jemyra Smith, passenger services representative, Staff Sgt. Lindsey Caldwell, ATOC representative, and Senior Airman Joseph Pizzitolo, air transportation journeyman.