SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. --
In support of Operation Inherent Resolve, members of the 336th Fighter Squadron deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia over the course of a couple of days in October 2017.
While providing dominant F-15E Strike Eagle airpower … anytime, anywhere, is the main mission, it takes a great deal of planning and execution to make sure the Airmen and aircraft are ready to do their job.
Staff Sgt. Elisha Bryant, 4th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations control center NCO in charge, and his shop played a major role in making sure the deployment stayed on schedule.
Besides ensuring they had the proper equipment such as tractor trailers, forklifts and buses, they made sure the cargo and passengers made it to their flight safely and on-time.
“When military air is being used, we take the deployers from their unit to the passenger terminal then eventually to the aircraft,” said Bryant. “If commercial air is being used, we transport them to the airport via bus. We are also responsible to transport the cargo from the units to the aircraft.”
But unlike a traditional passenger going on vacation, the civilians working at the airport don’t always touch the baggage.
“We take the cargo to the cargo deployment function yard to be weighed and then Air Terminal Operations loads the cargo on [container loaders] to load the aircraft,” Bryant said. “Often we assist ATO with forklifts and tractor trailers, as requested.”
Even though ensuring the cargo and Airmen go to their flight was a rather sizeable project, Bryant and a few others did more.
While departing, multiple F-15E Strike Eagles had to divert to other locations during the flight for repairs. Bryant and Airman 1st Class Christopher Thompson, 4th LRS vehicle operator, made sure the parts the jets needed were there.
“I was sent to Canadian Forces Base Greenwood, Nova Scotia, Canada along with Thompson,” Bryant said. “We were the first team from Seymour Johnson to perform an international tractor-trailer mission.”
Together, Bryant and Thompson hauled $150,000 worth of equipment weighing 16,000 pounds on a 40-foot flatbed for over 1,970 miles, one way.
“One of the direct challenges we originally faced involved the refueling of our tractor,” said Thompson. “We had access to only certain fuel stations that had been preauthorized for us.”
Because they could only fuel up at certain locations, every route had to be carefully planned out otherwise they could have been stuck without gas.
Bryant added the jets had a similar issue.
CFB Greenwood has a shorter runway, which meant the Strike Eagles were unable to receive a full fuel load, otherwise they couldn’t lift off before the runway ended. To fill up, the F-15Es had to divert to Bangor Air National Guard Base, Maine, where they had a few more issues forcing Bryant and Thompson to follow suit.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Hinnant, 4th LRS vehicle operations control center NCO in charge, and Senior Airman Jessie Weng, 4th LRS vehicle operator, were sent with a tractor trailer loaded with a fuel tank dolly to Barnes ANG base, Massachusetts, to support other diverted aircraft. Once the aircraft there were fixed, they were given orders to join Bryant and Thompson in Bangor ANG base.
After the multiple stops, the aircraft were able to continue on their mission.
More than 376 tons of cargo were moved, even with an insufficient amount of assets. LRS only had one of their forklifts available and borrowed one from the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron to compensate. They were also short on tractors and trailers since two were being used to deliver fuel and parts.
In the end, members from Team Seymour were successfully and safely sent off, and Seymour Johnson AFB was able to lock arms and work with the Canadian military.
“We played a major role in this mission, making it possible,” Thompson said. “And the international comradery was very neat to be a part of.”