730th Air Mobility Squadron in First Ever All-Female Mission

  • Published
  • By 2d Lt. Christopher Winters
  • 730th AMS

On March 27, a C-17 landed at Yokota Air Base for pallet upload, refueling, and maintenance servicing. What made this mission different was the all-female crew on board, commemorating Women's History Month and the contributions of women in the Air Force. Not only was the aircrew entirely female, but the ground crews as well, totaling 22 women. This aircraft that night was operated and maintained entirely by female leads, something not commonly observed in the Air Force.

Staff Sgt. Haruna Hamamoto, an integrated avionics craftsman in the 730th Air Mobility Squadron's maintenance flight, was one of the lead logistical planners for gathering the female ground crew together. This was the first time in the unit's history that something of this caliber had been executed.

"I decided to have an all-female ground crew support this mission to make history and show what we as female maintainers and aerial transportation specialists can do," Staff Sgt. Hamamoto said. "It's also about creating a space for us to connect, learn, and support each other. We're growing in numbers. We have seven female maintainers in our squadron now! But often, we find ourselves the only woman on the shift out of 15 people. I wanted to make an environment where women can be themselves and still get the job done."

All-female missions are important to highlight the contrast in crew dynamics compared to the conventional nature of the mission. While women may seldom find themselves working hand in hand with other women in their respective fields, making this a memorable occasion, it was still another Air Force mission in the movement of Department of Defense assets that is conducted every day. Having the 22 all-female team service an aircraft is the first known event to be recorded in the 730th AMS' history and celebrates a remarkable milestone for other women who will follow.

When asked about some of the challenges of sometimes being the female minority, Staff Sgt. Hamamoto said, "I've faced doubts before back in my first duty location, like when I tried to carry a toolbox and everyone offered to help because they thought it was too heavy for me."

She continued, "I know other women in the squadron share the same mindset. They don't like being compared to others and try to set a good image. We do struggle sometimes, but we always find a way to overcome that situation. We are creative, and we know how to work as a team. We find ways that work for us and get the job done."

The mission itself combined four units across six mission support elements. Women from the 62nd Airlift Wing with aircraft operations, the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels flight providing refueling support, the 730th AMS maintenance flight performing ground handling operations, and the 730th AMS aerial port (with support from the 82nd Aerial Port Squadron Reserve) executed loading operations.