News: Mobility Airman profile: Joint Base Lewis-McChord Airman supports C-17 combat airlift in Southwest Asia; helps deliver first tanks to Afghanistan
Story by Master Sgt. Scott Sturkol
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - From a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia thousands of miles away from his home base, Airman 1st Class David Schmitz is using his expertise as a C-17 Globemaster III loadmaster to get beans, bullets -- and even M1A1 Abrams tanks -- to warfighters on the front lines.
Deployed from the 4th Airlift Squadron, 62nd Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., Schmitz supports combat airlift operations with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. The C-17s and aircrews assigned to the 816th EAS support operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
C-17 airmen like Schmitz have had a busy year in 2010. C-17s and the airmen who fly and maintain them have supported humanitarian operations in Haiti and Pakistan, a surge of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, and are part of a record-breaking year for airdrops in Afghanistan.
More recently, Schmitz was part of an airlift effort that brought the first M1A1 Abrams tanks to Afghanistan in late November. Deploying the tanks is accomplished by a combination of sealift and airlift assets. The tanks and associated equipment are taken by ship for the majority of the trip around the world, and airlifted the last portion of their journey into land-locked Afghanistan by Air Force C-17s crewed by airmen like Schmitz.
The C-17 -- which operates with a crew of only three airmen of a pilot, co-pilot and loadmaster -- has a maximum payload capacity of 170,900 pounds and its maximum gross takeoff weight is 585,000 pounds, according to its Air Force fact sheet. With a payload of 169,000 pounds and an initial cruise altitude of 28,000 feet, the C-17 has an unrefueled range of approximately 2,400 nautical miles. Its cruise speed is approximately 450 knots.
To support all those combat airlift missions on the C-17, Schmitz has to have training and knowledge in a lot of areas. According to his official Air Force job description for the 1A2X1 career field, loadmasters like Schmitz accomplish loading and off-loading aircraft functions and perform pre-flight and post-flight of aircraft and aircraft systems. They also perform loadmaster aircrew functions, compute weight and balance and other mission specific qualification duties, and provide for safety and comfort of passengers and troops, and security of cargo, mail and baggage during flight.
Loadmasters like Schmitz are skilled in a variety of abilities, the job description states. For example, in determining quantity of cargo and passengers or troops to be loaded and proper placement in aircraft, loadmasters compute load and cargo distribution. They also compute weight and balance, and determine the amount of weight to be placed in each compartment or at each station. To do this they consider factors such as fuel load, aircraft structural limits and emergency equipment required.
C-17 loadmasters also accomplish the initial pre-flight of aircraft according to flight manuals. They pre-flight specific aircraft systems such as restraint rail and airdrop equipment. They also pre-flight aerospace ground equipment and apply external power to the aircraft. Additionally, they perform in-flight and special mission specific duties as required.
In the deployed environment, loadmasters like airman Gillespie are trained to conduct cargo and personnel airdrops according to directives. They are trained to attach extraction parachutes to cargo and platforms and inspect cargo and platforms, extraction systems and connects static lines. They also check tie-downs, parachutes, containers, suspension systems and extraction systems to ensure proper cargo extraction or release.
In supporting deployed airdrop operations for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, C-17s like those Schmitz flies on have been a part of a record year in 2010. Through Oct. 31, C-17s and other airlift have airdropped more than 45.6 million pounds of cargo to troops on the ground in austere locations.
When he's at his home base with the 62nd AW, Schmitz supports a mission to "deliver global airlift, focused logistics and agile combat support for America," the wing's fact sheet states. The 62nd AW is part of Air Mobility Command and "provides the Department of Defense a fast, flexible and responsive airlift capability." The 62nd AW, together with its Air Force Reserve associate wing, the 446th Airlift Wing, provides a large part of AMC's global reach airlift capability.
(Capt. Justin Brockhoff, 618th Air and Space Operations Center Public Affairs, contributed to this report.)
This work, Mobility Airman profile: Joint Base Lewis-McChord Airman supports C-17 combat airlift in Southwest Asia; helps deliver first tanks to Afghanistan, by MSgt Scott Sturkol, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.