731st AMS continues peninsula-wide logistics success
By Senior Airman Christopher Mitcham, 731st Air Mobility Squadron
/ Published June 18, 2013
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- As winter was winding down in the "Land of the Morning Calm", Airmen from the 731st Air Mobility Squadron stationed at Osana prepared to transition air freight operations to Kunsan Air Base for a projected two-month partial runway closure. A team of close to 20 aerial porters received their first scheduled 747B cargo aircraft April 29 at Kunsan. The 731st AMS proved to be masters of logistics operations, ultimately handling 22 cargo aircraft and proving the capability to operate from any location on the Korean peninsula.
The support of the 8th Fighter Wing leadership, transient alert and Air Mobility Command-contracted air terminal and ground handling services personnel, helped make partial runway closure operations successful. The team used a mixture of war reserve material along with their assets to accomplish their mission at the alternate location. Over the course of 30 days, they moved 894 tons of in-transit and terminating cargo through Kunsan including 83 tons of sensitive and hazardous cargo. Additionally, the team assisted mortuary affairs by providing dignified transfer with distinction and honor. Although it was a very sad moment on the flight line, these Airmen realized the magnitude and scope of their mission as transporters to serve in this capacity. Construction at Osan progressed ahead of schedule, and so the 731st AMS was able to transition operations back a month early.
"I enjoyed the workload and camaraderie among Airman and Korean Nationals," said Yi Sang Pok, 731st AMS load planner. "You could feel that there was a close bond across the team and I think that it's what got us over each obstacle."
Throughout the month there was little that slowed down this team as they continually strived for excellence. Always working safely, despite difficulties, the team downloaded and uploaded cargo to maintain the 731st AMS's outstanding 98 percent on-time aircraft departure reliability rate.
"Even when times were tough, we found a way to stay resilient and accomplish the mission at hand," said Airman 1st Class Roberto Rodriguez, 731st AMS aircraft services technician.
Throughout all the chaos and movement, the 731st AMS continued to innovate and save the Air Force money and protect resources, even in a different location. The typical thin plastic cargo pallet cover costs $6 per piece and is used to shelter household goods from inclement weather and insects as service members move to new assignments. By experimenting with prototype cargo pallet covers, 731st AMS Airmen in the runway closure mission alone managed to save the Air Force scarce funds by replacing pallet covers on 114 pallets containing household goods and more importantly, avert damage from the elements due to a lack of covered storage.
"Tracking, applying and moving the prototypes was challenging, but you could tell it was helpful for the environment when we saw the amount of plastic it saved," said Senior Airman David Webster, 731st AMS aircraft services technician.
The 731st AMS showed that it's no challenge to move logistic operations at a moment's notice to any location on the peninsula. For these Port Dawgs, runway closures and other difficulties will not interfere with mission success, as they continue to lead the way for all of the Pacific Air Force.