Expeditionary Center's air transportation instructors give their definition of 'aerial porter'

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
  • U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center Public Affairs
If you walk into the offices of the Mobility Operations School's Air Transportation Branch in the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center here, there is little doubt you'll bump into one of the many air transportation Airmen who work there as instructors. 

In each calendar year, these same instructors train thousands of Airmen from their career field "in-house" through the Aerial Port Operations Course, or, through distance learning courses such as the Air Terminal Operations Course or in many aerial port expeditor courses they teach. There's not a duty day that goes by where someone in their section is not updating a lesson plan or reworking a briefing. 

Before these Airmen became instructors in the USAF EC, they spent their share of time building pallets and moving cargo. If you asked any of them, they'd also tell you they are extremely proud of their heritage. 

For the Air Force air transportation career field, there are several nicknames these Airmen have termed it including "port dawg."  However, the one nickname that seems most synonymous with the field is "aerial porter." So as to give more people an idea about their career field, a few of the instructors provided their definition of an "aerial porter." 

"An aerial porter is mission driven," said Master Sgt. Jeff Norway, Air Transportation Branch superintendent, "meaning that we will tackle and accomplish whatever is asked of us ... even tasks well outside moving cargo and passengers. 

"Port dawgs are acquisitions experts," Sergeant Norway said. "If we can spruce up a deployed environment, fixed objects may become decorations in tent city. We also play as hard as we work, which lends to the importance of our wingman concept. We are a distinct brotherhood of elite warriors moving the world anytime ... anywhere!" 

Tech. Sgt. Jad Aoun, the branch's NCO in charge of e-learning design for on-line courses, said an aerial porter is an Airman who provides more than personnel and cargo processing. 

"An aerial porter can do the rigging for airdrop bundles to include packing parachutes," Sergeant Aoun said. We can load equipment on aircraft, prepare cargo documentation and load plans and we supervise units engaged in aircraft loading operations. If there's cargo that has to be moved, you can bet an aerial porter has had a part in it."
Staff Sgt. Paul Sweeney, an Aerial Port Operations Course instructor, defined an aerial porter as someone "who is proud to get the people and the cargo to the fight and then home from the fight." 

"An aerial porter can feel proud to get the military's resources to and from the fight as fast as possible," Sergeant Sweeney said. 

"An air transportation Airman works longer shifts and has fewer days off, but he is happy to be an 'aerial porter' or a 'port dawg!'" Sergeant Sweeney added. "An aerial porter gets to a deployed location first and is the last to leave a base when it forward deploys." 

On any given day in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility supporting either Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation Enduring Freedom, hundreds of tons of cargo and thousands of passengers are moved to keep the mission going, Sergeant Sweeney said. 

"Aerial porters keep that mission going," said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Holmes, director for the C-5 Aerial Port Expeditor Extended Learning Course. "Without us and the rest of the mobility air forces, wars could not be won." 

Sergeant Holmes added his own definition, however he termed it in the form of an acronym and, really, he says his definition spells out what aerial porters are all about.

P -- "Proud to serve."
O -- "Obtain excellence in all we do."
R -- "Respected by all."
T -- "Truthful in all we say."
D -- "Dedicated to the mission."
A -- "Always put integrity first."
W -- "Will never leave our wingman."
G -- "Go above and beyond."
S -- "Service before self."