MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --
Editor’s note: This is the first of a two-part feature highlighting the 730th Air Mobility Squadron Operating Location Bravo air terminal ground handling services.
“There’s a lot more to the air terminal than the Patriot Express,” said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Yerkes, the 730th AMS OL-B air terminal ground handling services contracting officer representatives NCO in charge. “We handle many different exercises and deployments or aircraft just stopping in for fuel.”
Falling under the Air Mobility Command—which prioritizes and sustains rapid global mobility through air movements with the right effects, in the right place and at the right time—the AMS OL-B air terminal ground handling services works as a detachment from Yokota Air Base, Japan.
The terminal coordinates deployment matters with the rotator, sets up space-availability with the Patriot Express and assists the Air Force with normal operations, like medical evacuations and cargo transfers.
AMC deploys U.S. armed forces anywhere in the world within hours and helps sustain them in a conflict, and accomplishes that through their four core mission areas – airlift, air refueling, air mobility support and aeromedical evacuation, thus aiding the Pacific Command mission of enhancing the U.S. presence in the region by strategically distributing our posture over a wider geographic range.
“If an aircraft needs stairs, we coordinate with the 35th Logistic Readiness Squadron to get it to them,” Yerkes said. “If they need potable water, we supply it. If there are any passengers coming off with pets, we coordinate with Misawa’s pet kennel to have a qualified vet to clear the animals.”
The heaviest weight may not always be the cargo; sometimes, supporting the lives of others is the most important task for AMC personnel.
Yerkes said AMC works with the 35th Medical Group for medical evacuation situations. He added if there isn’t another airframe already at Misawa capable of converting to a med-evac mission, they work with the C-130 Hercules and C-12 Hurons based out of Yokota.
“A good thing is the frequency of medical evacuations are not constant,” Yerkes said. “But when it does happen a medical evacuation airlift would get to Misawa and leave the same day or within 24 hours after requested.”
In other situations, AMC personnel work around the Wild Weasel mission schedule, ensuring requests like small cargo transfers have the time and air space to take-off and reach their destination.
“The F-16 Fighting Falcons have priority,” Yerkes said. “They have flying hour requirements every week, so if a row of jets are ready to take-off, our aircraft wait until they are finished.
Master Sgt. Francisco Aguilera, the Misawa 730th AMS OL-B air terminal ground handling services contracting officer representatives superintendent, said because the terminal usually has a consistent schedule, pilots do their best to schedule around their take-offs, but recognizes they cannot always shift flight times when the mission is at stake.
“If there is any small window of airspace available for commercial and cargo aircraft to land, we will utilize that window,” Aguilera added.
Making sure schedules align is a team effort; Senior Airman Christopher Beckman, a 35th Operations Group airfield management shift lead, said they work to ensure the AMS here stays informed.
“When we work with the AMS we let them know the arrival and departure times of the aircraft,” Beckman said. “We also make sure they have available parking on the flightline when they land.”
As often as the terminal oversees flying operations, Yerkes said they also provide cargo transfers through other means when an air service is not necessary.
“The majority of cargo we deal with is transported by trucks since Misawa does not get many cargo aircraft going to the places our cargo needs to go,” Yerkes explained. “Our truck service is primarily to and from Yokota, and typically comes once or twice a week–depending on how much cargo is in the backlog.”
He added that sometimes the 35th LRS handles the shipments alone, but as large cargo amounts come in, the terminal is always there to lend a hand.
“If there are a lot of pallets to be downloaded, regardless if it is a mission for the LRS or not, AMS will provide 40K-Loader support to speed up the cargo download or upload process,” he said.
Altogether, Yerkes explained their teams can deliver or receive anywhere from 1,000 pounds in truck shipments to 200,000 pounds of cargo by air transports.
“The AMS moves any type of cargo someone can think of,” Yerkes said. “For Misawa, we move everything from household goods, classified material, small vehicles, aircraft engines, explosives and other hazardous materials.”
As AMS personnel coordinate and ensure transportation of goods like deployment gear or classified cargo, they still make time for getting passengers to and from Japan using the Space Available program.
Editor’s note: Part two of the series continues next month with info on Space A and personnel.