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Lost in Transit

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kekoa Santiago
  • 332d Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron

When in a deployed location, the expectation for fast shipping leaves as soon as you receive a care-package dated from a seasonal holiday the year prior. 2-day shipping is not an option, but when an $11,000 asset doesn’t arrive for over a year, that item is no longer in shipping transit, it’s gone missing.

The 361st Expeditionary Attack Squadron ordered an MQ-9 Reaper propeller stand valued at $11,000 in June 2022. A prop stand allows the 361st EATKS to work on multiple aircraft simultaneously to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance necessary for positive target acquisition which is crucial to safeguard the United States and allied forces within the region.

Since June 2022, multiple rotations arrived and redeployed without the stand and the operations tempo of the 361st EATKS never reached its full potential. It was the curious mind of Senior Airman Nicole Niles, an equipment accountability element journeyman, with the 332d Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, who was liaised with the 361st EATKS as the 332d Air Expeditionary Wing base equipment manager, who noticed the missing shipment.

Niles’ persistent drive led her to contact the Traffic Management Office, where she coordinated with Master Sgt. Todd Chisamore to locate the lost shipment. Chisamore researched the shipment discrepancy with Army personnel who then transported the stand. Niles’ exemplary work ethic tracked the shipment down to the TMO receipt yard and pin-pointed the stand. She immediately notified the custodian for pick-up. 

“When I discovered that an MQ-9 propeller stand was showing in the system as being delivered almost a year ago but physically unaccounted, I knew we needed a different plan of attack to retrieve the missing asset,” said Niles. “With the help of my senior leadership, the knowledge of Chisamore from TMO, and a lot of persistence, we were able to locate the propeller stand and have the shop pick it up for immediate use.”

The necessity for the propeller stand is vital to the 332d AEW’s support of Operation Inherent Resolve. The 332d AEW MQ-9 aircraft are valued at $565 million which previously utilized only one stand. The additional maintenance stand allows for multiple installation and removal of MQ-9 Reaper operational assets, which allow the 361 EATKS to conduct Aerial Command and Control missions within the region. Without the stands, repair capabilities of the MQ-9 would be limited.

“As the 332 AEW’s base equipment manager, Niles is responsible for 100% accountability of all assets and routinely ensures all 88 custodian’s needs are routed to Air Force Material Command,” said Tech. Sgt. Cody Hagins, 332d ELRS, customer service and equipment accountability section chief. “Her excellent stewardship in managing this multi-service supply chain shortfall to resolution, ensured the 361st EATKS is able to project Aerial Command and Control missions within the region.”

The tenacity of Niles and support from Chisamore truly embody the Air Force core value of, excellence in all we do. Their partnership located an item that supports the 332d AEW Airmen and ultimately Operation Inherent Resolve.

“This truly was a team effort and we emphasize the importance of teamwork in completing the mission,” said Chisamore. “We all provide a vital role to ensure we are meeting our nation’s goals and it wouldn’t be possible without the efforts of our Airmen.”