Aerial Port seeks to add depth to an already solid roster

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Courtney Dotson-Essett
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs

It’s no easy feat to put boots on the ground and execute the Air Force’s mission, but a well-trained, full roster definitely helps.

Airmen from Grissom’s 49th Aerial Port Squadron are tasked with making sure things run smoothly at home and abroad, and it takes a lot of people to get the job done.

Aerial port is responsible for building cargo pallets, transporting cargo to aircraft, and the planning and logistics involved in the process. While deployed overseas, they also handle passenger transportation.

The 49th APS traces its origin back to 1973 and was originally established as the 49th Aerial Port Squadron, but was deactivated in 1992.

It was later re-designated as the 49th Aerial Port Flight at Grissom and would once again become a squadron in early 2018.

In addition to their key function of processing cargo and personnel, APS is also responsible for loading and unloading aircraft, performing joint inspections of cargo and equipment for air transportation and executing engine running on-loads/off-loads.

“Our primary goal is to train and deploy. We provide expeditionary Airmen for Air Force Reserve Command to train and send out where they need them,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Connelly, 49th APS operations superintendent.

As it continues to grow, the squadron is currently looking to fill vacancies with qualified Airmen.

Squadron leadership and recruiters are working together to get the word out about APS and all it has to offer.

“APS leadership came to me and said they had several positions and asked for help getting them filled,” said Senior Master Sgt. Tracey Barry, 434th Air Refueling Wing recruiting flight chief. We started looking at the Individual Ready Reserve and finding qualified individuals, and now we’re moving on to non-prior service.”

APS can currently carry up to 95 Airmen, and leadership anticipates that number of allowances to increase to 123 by the end of the calendar year.

Opportunities exist for anyone from IRR members looking to rejoin, to currently enlisted members looking to cross train. 

The unit’s decision to proactively recruit for these openings strengthens Grissom’s commitment to recruiting and retaining resilient leaders to successfully execute the Air Force mission.  

 “We have open borders,” Connelly said.  “We’re looking to gain anybody who’s interested in staying in the Air Force and is going to be a good worker.”

He added, “We’re not discriminatory in the sense that we’re super selective. Most of our lines are for three and five-skill level people that we’re gaining initially anyway.

“I think we have a pretty robust program to get people spun up to 5-skill level in a pretty reasonable amount of time.”

Connelly stressed that while desire and a strong work ethic are a big part of being a good fit for Grissom’s APS, interested parties should be keenly aware of what it means to do the job.

“Besides the minimum requirements that the Air Force sets, there has to be a willingness and the understanding of what it means to be an expeditionary Airman,” Connelly said. “It’s a physically labor intensive job. He or she should have the ability to work in all elements-outside, inside, on the flight line. We’re looking for the type of person who’s willing to give 100 percent effort.

 “We’re going to give them the training they need if they’re willing to give 100 percent effort. That’s our primary concern.”

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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Members of the 49th Aerial Port Squadron prepare to offload a C-17 Globemaster III during a field training exercise. APS is responsible for a number of tasks including processing cargo and personnel, loading and unloading aircraft,and executing engine running on-loads/off-loads. (U.S. Air Force photo)