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380AEW Article

Vehicle operations: Driving force behind 380 AEW mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Preston Webb
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Hustle and bustle are an everyday part of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing’s tempo as Airmen constantly contribute to execute the mission.

Behind every movement, and enabling every success by physically providing personnel means of reaching their daily duties, is the 380th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations shop.

“Our whole mission is to keep the base moving. If you think of the base as clockwork, we’re the gears that go between all the others,” said Senior Airman Tyler Sullivan, 380th ELRS vehicle operator. “Every day is a little bit different, we do everything from tractor-trailer and forklift runs for cargo to running the shuttle.”

The Vehicle Operations Control Center also oversees the “U Drive It” program, empowering Airmen or missions in need of temporary or additional vehicles to advance the mission. The program provides on-base agencies with greater short-term freedoms in their transportation needs.

"One of our most common challenges is vehicles going down either to maintenance issues or loss of [air conditioning]," said Tech. Sgt. Donnel Carney, 380th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of the vehicle operations control center. "These vehicles aren't meant to be in this kind of heat and being used 24/7, shift after shift, so air conditioners go down a lot and our operators have to endure [the heat]."

Under the heat of the sun and behind the magnifying glass that is their vehicle’s windshield, Carney said operators continually act as the driving force behind the mission without complaint.

Since April, the 28-person shop has transported nearly 150,000 passengers, enough to fill the average professional football stadium twice over. They’ve also moved more than 9 million pounds of cargo, the equivalent of 18 KC-10 Extenders.

To support the wide variety of taskings received from agencies across the 380 AEW the team of vehicle operators must coordinate to work as efficiently as possible.

“Because everyone comes [to the 380 AEW] from a different base, they all have different ways of doing things and they’re all correct,” Sullivan said. “So we share all the tips and tricks we’ve learned to keep things running smoothly.”

Carney said, without vehicle operators at the 380 AEW, flight crews wouldn’t be able to reach their aircraft, maintainers wouldn’t reach their hangars and the mission would simply stall out.

“Knowing that four months ago we hit the ground running and we’re still making the mission happen is a great feeling,” Carney said. “At the end of the day, seeing the impact we have and the critical role we play in the flying mission is a great accomplishment.”