By Thomas Doscher
386th Air Expeditionary Wing
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- If you lined up everyone in the state of Vermont, put them on buses, shipped them to the flightline and put them on planes, you still wouldn't have moved as many people the 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron did in 2008.
In 2008, the 386th ELRS moved more than 765,000 personnel into and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 40,000 more than the previous year.
Capt. Benjamin Walker, 386th ELRS Aerial Port Flight commander, said his team never realized the scope of their accomplishment until they stepped back and took a good look.
"We don't necessarily step back and look at how many people we've moved," he said. "We weren't out to move that many. We're just working so hard, we didn't realize we had."
The movements sum up the ELRS mission here at the Rock, getting service members where they need to be, whether that's into Iraq or Afghanistan or back to their home bases at the end of a deployment. The process requires careful coordination, putting deployers and redeployers on flights.
Senior Airman Chasity Thomas, 386th ELRS and a native of Port Huron, Mich., is responsible for getting deployed servicemembers on a flight where ever they need to go. She said some need more help than others.
"Some guys come here, and it's like their unit just dropped them off and said, 'Here, move,'" she said. "Every passenger you talk to, 250 a day, you need to make sure they know what to do, or they're going to sit here for a week."
Airman Thomas said for the frazzled, exhausted passengers, a friendly smile and the right information goes a long way.
"There are passengers who come through here, and I can hear them out front asking, 'Is Airman Thomas here?'" she said. "I made sure they knew when to be here, and every time I tried to have a smile on my face. It makes my day to know that they appreciate me just doing my job."
Capt. Walker said that without Airmen like Airman Thomas, the squadron would never have been able to move as many people as they had.
"Our Airmen are the best in the world," he said. "I am really proud to serve alongside such a professional group of Airmen."
Airman Thomas said that while her job isn't glamorous, it has an impact on the mission, and it's that impact that makes her proud of what she does.
"Seeing all the Soldiers and Marines come through that are going over there, you see it on the news, and I see that I'm a part of that movement," she said. "Otherwise those Soldiers would not be there on the front line, doing what they're doing. Somebody has to move them. Somebody has to push their bags on the plane and make sure the flights depart on time and safely. It's a big team that has to work together, and I love being part of that team."
This work, 386th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron breaks their all-time high, by MSgt Thomas Doscher, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.