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Air terminal operators keep freight, passengers moving

KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Tech. Sgt. Bringham Norman helps move a pallet filled with mail here recently.  He is an air transportation craftsman with the 416th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron's Air Terminal Operations Center from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)

KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Tech. Sgt. Bringham Norman helps move a pallet filled with mail here recently. He is an air transportation craftsman with the 416th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron's Air Terminal Operations Center from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)

KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Senior Airman Fred Koehl guides the driver of an aircraft loader here recently.  He is an air transportation journeyman deployed here with the 416th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron's Air Terminal Operations Center from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)

KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Senior Airman Fred Koehl guides the driver of an aircraft loader here recently. He is an air transportation journeyman deployed here with the 416th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron's Air Terminal Operations Center from Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)

KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Army troops follow an Airman of the 416th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron's Air Terminal Operations Center as they walk across the flightline on their way to a C-130 Hercules to fly to a forward-deployed location supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)

KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Army troops follow an Airman of the 416th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron's Air Terminal Operations Center as they walk across the flightline on their way to a C-130 Hercules to fly to a forward-deployed location supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)

KARSHI-KHANABAD AIR BASE, Uzbekistan -- Airmen in the air terminal operations center here are working around the clock every day to shuttle troops and cargo for Operation Enduring Freedom.

On any given day, the 28 people in the ATOC greet a C-130 loaded with Soldiers and Airmen headed for Afghanistan, a civilian plane brimming with mail for deployed troops or a C-17 carrying supplies for the base.

“The ATOC moves beans, bullets and personnel to fight the Global War on Terrorism, as well as moving hundreds of thousands of pounds of humanitarian aid,” said Senior Master Sgt. John Rawls, ATOC superintendent.

Sergeant Rawls is one of many Air Force reservists working at K-2 who are from Air Force Reserve Command’s 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. He oversees all four functional areas of the 416th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron ATOC -- passenger terminal, ramp operations, special handling and information control.

In February ATOC members worked 138 outbound C-130 and 36 C-17 missions along with missions for six other aircraft and welcomed more than 175 inbound flights. In all, they processed more than 1,700 outbound and 1,800 inbound passengers, plus more than 200 transient passengers.

“We process anywhere between 400 to 450 outbound passengers and 450 to 500 inbound passengers per any seven-day period,” said Tech. Sgt. Nicole Stiger, another reservist from Maxwell AFB. The NCO in charge of the passenger terminal operations for the night shift said the ATOC handles 10 to 15 baggage pallets per week.

In a month’s time, those pallets of baggage amount to a lot of freight moved. In February alone, Sergeant Rawls said his people moved more than 335,000 pounds of inbound, outbound and transient passenger baggage. On top of that, in February, they moved more than 2.5 million pounds of cargo.

“Basically, we move everything that needs to get on an aircraft, whether it’s supplies, equipment or people,” said Airman James Bowler, an air transportation specialist from Maxwell AFB working in the ATOC’s ramp operations section.

This is Airman Bowler’s first deployment.

“I’ve barely been in the Air Force for a year now,” he said. “It is a great opportunity for me as an Air Force reservist to get in a lot of quality training in my career. I see that I have a direct impact on the Global War on Terrorism.”

Like other people in the ATOC from Maxwell AFB; Robins AFB, Ga.; Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.; Nellis AFB, Nev.; and Yokota Air Base, Japan, Airman Bowler is qualified to operate the center’s various pieces of equipment. That equipment includes 10,000-pound capable adverse terrain forklifts and Halvorson and Conn-Diesel 25,000-pound aircraft loaders.

“We are all under the same career field -- 2T2X1 -- and we’re all trained in any of the functions of the ATOC,” Sergeant Rawls said.

Tech. Sgt. Charles Hammond, a ramp services supervisor for the ATOC, said it takes everyone to get cargo and people into the fight in Afghanistan.

“What we do is crucial,” said the Maxwell AFB reservist. “Supporting troops down range with vital cargo and food is no small task so our ATOC people do whatever it takes to get that done.”

Sergeant Hammond added that some of the challenges with loading and off-loading planes with cargo, for example, involves “short notices for uploads when aircraft are rescheduled due to weather or maintenance.”