Air Passenger & Cargo Terminal aids Component’s effort to operate from five countries

Tech. Sgt. Pete Demkow and Ferninand Janssen ensure a pallet is properly loaded on the back of a truck Aug. 1, 2014, at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany.
Aug 14, 2014
Two Germans, three Americans and two Dutch people walk into a hangar and, with E-3A Components fleet fully dispersed to its forward operating bases and location, they are helping NATO AWACS operate from five different countries at the same time.

Due to the closure of the runway at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany, earlier this Spring, the E-3A Component’s Air Passenger & Cargo Terminal has stepped up to move cargo and personnel around the world.

"Including Afghanistan, the Component is simultaneously operating from five countries throughout Europe and the Middle East,” said Tech. Sgt. Shawn A. Rodebaugh, NCO in charge of Passenger Services. "As a result, we have seen a dramatic increase in work compared to the beginning of this year.”

Personnel from the Air & Cargo Passenger Terminal secure pallets to the bed of a truck Aug. 1, 2014, at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany.Since May, the Air Passenger & Cargo Terminal has processed 395 short tons of cargo, built 265 pallets, loaded 3,538 passengers and put in more than 134 hours of overtime in 103 days. In contrast, this same seven-person team processed 231 short tons of cargo, built 142 pallets, loaded 1,756 passengers and put in 56 hours of overtime from January to April.

"Our workload has increased because the Component is moving the E-3As around and the crews are regularly being swapped out,” Sergeant Rodebaugh said. "We deal with it the same way we always handle challenges: by working together and helping each other out.”

Due to the runway closure, all flights have been going out of Liège. This means the Air Passenger & Cargo Terminal has to be at Hangar 4 more than four hours before take-off to get the cargo and passengers ready.

"We are a pretty tight nit group, so we often make sacrifices for each other,” Sergeant Rodebaugh added. "We all share the burden of working early shifts or staying late.”

Ferninand Janssen, a mobility assistant, loads a pallet on the back of a truck Aug. 1, 2014, at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany.Some of the other challenges facing the Air Passenger & Cargo Terminal are aircraft limitations and the logistical limitations of the other locations.

"There are a lot of other factors that go into moving cargo to these locations but I think the above mentioned would be our hardest ones,” Sergeant Rodebaugh explained. "The aircraft have very specific dimensions and weight restrictions. When there are specific items that need to be sent, we have to make sure they can fit these specifications. As for the limitations of the other locations, they don’t have the same equipment as us, so we have to make sure they can download the cargo when it arrives.”

While helping the Component conduct operations from various locations is a significant task, it isn’t something the Air Passenger & Cargo Terminal focuses about.

"I don’t believe any of us really think about it,” Sergeant Rodebaugh said. "We are just out here doing our jobs, but that’s the way it is. You never really think how important your job is or the impact of your job until someone else brings it up. We all enjoy our job and take pride in just doing it the best we possibly can.”


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