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Heartbeat of the installation: 443 AES Air Mobility Flight forge mission success, partnership

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs Office

For the 443rd Air Expeditionary Squadron Air Mobility Flight Airmen, it’s the strength of their team and fruitfulness of their mission partner relationships that allow them to respond to any situation.

Nestled like a small village, members from nearly a dozen Air Force Speciality Codes blend together to bring rapid global mobility to joint and coalition warfighters in Iraq.

The air mobility warfighters include aerial port, vehicle maintenance, airfield management, aircraft ground equipment and transient alert Airmen.

“This deployment is a good setting to be able to work with these different teams, learn some new things and see what they do,’” said Tech. Sgt. Charles Call, 433rd AES Air Mobility Flight shift supervisor. “Here, we integrate as sort of a single function, rather than just staying in our lane and even within our own AFSC.”

One of only two aerial points of entry into Iraq, Call explains how vital the integration of each team is to mission success at the Air Mobility Flight.

“Everyone has an additional duty, an additional responsibility, and as time progresses they find themselves taking on more roles or just supporting the other functions,” said Call. “We could not do what we do without them and they couldn't do what they do without us. We really do integrate well as a team, like a Swiss Army knife in my opinion.”

A perfect example of this integration and teamwork came during the middle of a recent strategic airlift mission. Needing to unload over a hundred thousand pounds of cargo off of a C-5M Super Galaxy and racing against the clock to meet mission timelines, the Air Mobility Flight snapped into action.

Airmen worked alongside Iraqi customs officials and interpreters to itemize each and every piece of cargo. Pallet upon pallet of cargo was quickly and efficiently offloaded with precision. During the offloading, a 30,000 pound vehicle died on the aircraft ramp. Vehicle maintenance rapidly responded to breathe life back into it to get it off the ramp and at the end of the day, the C-5 was able to take off with all of its cargo unloaded.

“It’s nice to see that even when things don't go according to plan, we're able to adjust,” said Call. “I always use the word agility. I like to describe us as an agile aerial port because we can adjust on the fly. We don't break down, we don't panic, we just do our job.”

This professionalism and relationship building directly translates towards the daily interactions the team has with its mission partners. Working alongside Iraqi customs officials for each aircraft that lands and responsible for checking each aircraft’s cargo, Staff Sgt. Sam Stiger, 443rd AES Air Mobility Flight Iraqi customs and immigrations liaison, explains how he uses these relationships to continue mission success.

“Being able to learn about a new culture and understand and use that to be able to keep the mission moving forward has been my favorite part,” said Stiger. “I can’t tell you how much hot tea I’ve drank since I’ve been here.”

It’s these relationships that fuel both the Air Mobility Flight and the installation.

“All the work that happens down there, nothing moves without the team,” said Maj. Katherine Brugler, 443rd Air Expeditionary Squadron Air Mobility Flight commander. “The Air Mobility Flight as a whole is the heartbeat of this installation.”