8th EAMS ramp services load “tons” of cargo

by Senior Airman Benjamin Stratton
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

7/18/2013 – SOUTHWEST ASIA — With one of the most diverse mission sets in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, the 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron handles a “ton” of cargo making the work of the unit’s ramp services Airmen here exponentially important to the joint war fighter.

“We’re extremely vital; without air transportation, who knows how long it would take to convoy all this cargo to these locations,” said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Jweinat, an 8th EAMS ramp services technician deployed from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. “We can have it [the cargo] there in a moment’s notice and we’re responsible for making sure it gets on the plane.”

The 8th EAMS ramp services mission begins at ramp dispatch.

“Our dispatchers are the eyes and ears of the operation,” Jweinat said. “They coordinate setup, upload, download and arrival times for aircraft and send out the crews to do the missions.”

A mission of this magnitude also requires a sound load plan to make sure the jet is properly balanced for flight and max fuel efficiency.

“They plan all the loads,” he said. “They do all the checks and balances with the weight to make sure it’s good to go before we get the load plan and set it up.”

“It’s a calculations game,” added Staff Sgt. Adam Rozehnal, an 8th EAMS air transportation supervisor deployed from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. “The heavy equipment is chained down in the front of the jet and then followed by light and lighter equipment eventually ending with the pallets.”

Rozehnal said this is primarily done so if they need to jettison any of the cargo in flight, the loadmaster and aircrew can make the proper on-the-fly modifications.

“It’s not crazy math, but there are a lot of calculations we do to make sure everything is buttoned down safely,” said Rozehnal.

Ramp services Airmen primarily use their 10K all-terrain forklift and the Tunner 60K aircraft cargo loader and transporter to upload and download the jets.

“These loaders allow the cargo to be anything from supplies to equipment to vehicles,” said Jweinat. “We can also load anything from MRAPs [Mine Resistant Ambush Protected] and Humvees to tanks and other aircraft, depending on the airframe.”

These Airmen must also interact with the jet’s loadmasters.

“We work alongside the loadmasters to make sure everything is locked in place using chains,” Jweinat said. “This cargo can be sent all over the AOR and especially to the front lines to support the joint war fighter.”

However, with most military units, timeliness is a key factor to ongoing operations, especially in the deployed environment.

“Everything we do here is run on a specific timeline,” explained Jweinat. “Because if we delay an aircraft it costs the Air Force a lot of money — so load planning gives us our load plans six hours in advance. The dispatcher then coordinates movement in the yard and dispatches teams to setup loads so everything is done on time and by the book safely so we don’t delay an aircraft.”

For these Airmen, they’re just doing their job.

“We’re just doing what we need to do to help the people in the fight down range,” said Rozehnal.

[Editor’s note: This article is part three of an eight part series highlighting the unique missions accomplished by the Airmen of 8th EAMS.]

Published by Benjamin W. Stratton

I'm a photojournalist traveling the world sharing what I experience along the way.

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