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Relocations to repatriations:

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 731st Air Mobility Squadron salute during a Te Auraki return ceremony at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct. 5, 2018. The 731st AMS was one of several agencies that was instrumental for the successful execution of the Te Auraki ceremony, when the remains of two New Zealand soldiers buried in Busan, South Korea were returned to their homeland, and the United Nations Command Repatriation on Aug. 1, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelsey Tucker)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 731st Air Mobility Squadron salute during a Te Auraki return ceremony at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct. 5, 2018. The 731st AMS was one of several agencies that was instrumental for the successful execution of the Te Auraki ceremony, when the remains of two New Zealand soldiers buried in Busan, South Korea were returned to their homeland, and the United Nations Command Repatriation on Aug. 1, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelsey Tucker)

The United Nations Command Honor Guard prepares to transfer caskets of remains onto waiting C-17 Globemaster IIIs as members of the 36th Fighter Squadron perform a missing man flyover at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Aug. 1, 2018. Two C-17s left Osan AB for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where members of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will attempt to identify the remains of the fallen heroes. The UNC repatriated 55 cases of remains from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelsey Tucker)

The United Nations Command Honor Guard prepares to transfer caskets of remains onto waiting C-17 Globemaster IIIs as members of the 36th Fighter Squadron perform a missing man flyover at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Aug. 1, 2018. Two C-17s left Osan AB for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where members of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency will attempt to identify the remains of the fallen heroes. The UNC repatriated 55 cases of remains from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kelsey Tucker)

Members from the Maori Cultural Group and Pallbearers from the New Zealand Te Auraki Project escort remains of PJ Mollison and HL Herbert Lester Humm on the tarmac at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct. 5, 2018. As part of a project called Te Auraki (The Return), the New Zealand Defense Force returns personnel and dependents buried overseas after January 1955 back home to New Zealand. (U.S. Army Sergeant Benjamin Parsons)

Members from the Maori Cultural Group and Pallbearers from the New Zealand Te Auraki Project escort remains of PJ Mollison and HL Herbert Lester Humm on the tarmac at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Oct. 5, 2018. As part of a project called Te Auraki (The Return), the New Zealand Defense Force returns personnel and dependents buried overseas after January 1955 back home to New Zealand. (U.S. Army Sergeant Benjamin Parsons)

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The eyes of a nation, and the world, converged on Osan Air Base Aug. 1 to watch as 55 cases of remains from the Korean War were repatriated from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

On Oct. 5, crowds gathered again at the Osan Passenger Terminal for a similar event—a Te Auraki Return Ceremony—where the remains of two New Zealand soldiers buried in Busan, Republic of Korea, were returned to their homeland.

Between high-profile events such as these and routine flights in and out of base, Airmen assigned to the 731st Air Mobility Squadron are always on hand to ensure operations continue to move efficiently.

“As soon as you put food on the sidewalk, a bunch of ants come to it,” said 1st Lt. Neal Gupta, 731st AMS Air Terminal Operations Center flight commander, from Carle Place, New York. “That’s exactly what happens when an aircraft parks. We’re that crew of ants that come to the aircraft, and without us the aircraft won’t depart on time.”

The Airmen handle everything from manifesting passengers and loading cargo to scheduling taxi and takeoff times.

“There’s a lot of logistics behind the scenes that most people don’t see about getting the aircraft perfectly in position,” said Gupta. “Everything needs to be done in order for that plane to start its engines.”

Since Airmen are so intricately involved in passenger terminal daily operations, it’s no surprise they play an important role in events like the repatriation and Te Auraki ceremonies, especially when the mission has to continue regardless of other events.

During the Te Auraki ceremony, not only did the Airmen have to react to a last minute venue change when the weather took a turn for the worst, but they also processed more than 600 personnel for inbound and outbound flights.

While the Airmen may not actually get the chance to watch the ceremonies, they are able to interact one-on-one with foreign aircrew and visitors while performing their job.

“I enjoy working with other countries,” said Senior Airman Dane Nakamura, 731st AMS passenger service supervisor, from Los Angeles. “It’s always a different experience, being able to work hand in hand with them.”

Nakamura said repatriation missions are his favorite part of the job because of the meaning behind them.

“It’s fantastic to be able to pay that respect to fallen service members.”

As negotiations continue on the Korean Peninsula, the 731st AMS and Team Osan look forward to continued repatriations until every fallen hero is accounted for.