News: Charleston NCO manages aerial port operations support in Afghanistan
Story by Master Sgt. Scott Sturkol
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Staff Sgt. Michael Martin is an air transportation craftsman assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
Martin is deployed from the 38th APS at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and his hometown is also Charleston.
At Bagram, Martin is a member of the short take-offs and landings flight for the 455th EAPS, according to Staff Sgt. Christopher Boitz of 455th AEW Public Affairs. His primary duties include in-bound and out-bound flight documentation, creating daily reports for dissemination to higher headquarters, pulling mail and cargo for down-range stations and more. He also works with higher headquarters and multiple sister service base agencies to ensure the on-time delivery of mail, cargo and passengers to forward operating bases across Afghanistan.
Air transportation airmen, or aerial porters, like Martin are trained to be able to move cargo, passengers, or both on a moment's notice. Each air transportation airman deployed to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, including Martin, has to maintain a myriad of skills and job knowledge.
According to the official Air Force job description for the air transportation career field, they must maintain mandatory job knowledge in passenger and cargo movement functions to include transport aircraft types, capabilities, and configuration. They must also know weight and balance factors, airlift transportation directives and documentation, cargo securing techniques, border clearance requirements, operation of materials handling and other types of loading equipment or devices, fleet service functions.
Martin's deployed unit ensures the safe and efficient upload and download of cargo and personnel on all organic and contracted aircraft to the base. To do the heavy lifting, they use specific material handling equipment such as forklifts capable of lifting upwards of 10,000 pounds of cargo and aircraft cargo loaders which are capable of holding pallets and cargo weighing up to 25,000 and 60,000 pounds. The loaders, when filled with cargo, are driven out to the aircraft, the deck is raised hydraulically, and powered rollers on the loader push the cargo on board the plane.
In directing air transportation activities, aerial porters like Martin supplement policies and direct supervisory personnel to provide cargo and passenger loading and unloading services. He is trained to establish procedures for passenger and aircraft clearance through international border clearance agencies and to inspect airlift activities for compliance with directives, the job description states.
Martin is also trained to verify eligibility of cargo and mail offered for airlift and to review passenger travel authorizations for validity and accuracy. He also ensures all cargo documentation, packaging, labeling and marking requirements, and all border clearance requirements have been met. He provides information on schedules, routes, air movement requirements, baggage limitations and local facilities for passengers and requisitions, stores and issues expendable and non-expendable items for use on aircraft.
Aerial porters like Martin can check in passengers and process, schedule, transport and escort passengers to and from aircraft. They determine quantity and type of cargo to be loaded according to allowable aircraft cabin load and they check cargo against manifests, and annotate overage, shortage or damage.
For his deployed work, Martin was also named the 455th AEW's Warrior of the Week in early August.
According to the wing website, the 455th AEW serves U.S. Air Forces Central and provides close air support, combat search rescue, aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and airlift capabilities to U.S. and coalition forces supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. In conjunction with Combined Joint Task Force-82, the 455th AEW is working to secure the future of Afghanistan for the Afghan people. Aircraft include the F-15E Strike Eagle, C-130 Hercules, HH-60 Pave Hawk, and Navy EA-6B Prowler.