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Small Air Terminal

  • Published
  • By MSgt. Mark Owen
  • 117ARE/PA
The 117th Air Refueling Wing has a new section on base. We received the manning for this section in April of 2008. As of this writing, it is fully manned plus one, thanks to a superior recruiting office. But, that's a story for another day.
This new section makes up one quarter of the Logistics Squadron with twenty-five personnel assigned. Those twenty-five members consist of one full-time person and twenty-four traditional Guardsmen.
Just what is this new section you may ask? Well, the resident Air Force Specialty Codes (AFSCs) assigned to the new section are those usually associated with an Aerial Port Squadron. Aerial Port you say?
The next logical question would be, "what is an Aerial Port?" By definition, an Aerial Port is an Air Force organization that operates and provides functions including the processing of personnel and cargo, rigging for airdrop, packing parachutes, loading equipment, preparing air cargo and load plans, loading and securing aircraft, ejecting cargo for inflight delivery, and supervising units engaged in aircraft loading and unloading operations.
Well, we do not have an Aerial Port Squadron. We have a Small Air Terminal. Way ahead of you here. By definition, a Small Air Terminal (SAT) are those air terminals not designated as Aerial Ports. Huh? To put it simply, we are not big enough for an Aerial Port Squadron. We don't have the volumes of mixed Air Mobility missions as places such as RAF Mildenhall, Dover AFB or Ramstein AB. However, the functions and responsibilities remain the same.
To be able to operate and provide these functions, the shop has to be on call 24/7. That in itself is a challenge when there is only one full-time member assigned. In addition, it has to be flexible enough to extend beyond the above definition. For example, this section has performed U. S. Customs functions in the line of duty. Looking at it pragmatically, it is a shop of pragmatists practicing pragmatism.
To put this in perspective, recently, 141 Marines processed through our Small Air Terminal. The Anti-Terrorism Battalion of the 4th Marine Division, Echo Company was tasked to deploy to the Mideast for training with the Israeli Defense Force.
Notification was received by the Small Air Terminal Superintendent, MSgt Dennis Justice, that the point of debarkation would be the 117th Air Refueling Wing's Small Air Terminal. In less than one week, the Marines arrived for departure to Tel Aviv, Israel on board a contract Boeing 767 jet. All functions were readied and the deployment went off without a hitch.
When told of the young age of the Small Air Terminal, Capt. Gary Humphries, Commander of Echo Company, stated that you certainly couldn't tell that it was a young operation. He added "the service has been great".
Lt. Col. Keith Canavero, Anti-Terrorism Battalion Commander, was grateful for the hospitality extended to his Marines.
In all, 141 passengers (28940 lbs), 217 bags (11495 lbs) and 51 pieces of cargo (5000) were processed.
Of course, the ground work for the success of the SAT has been in-place due to the substantial efforts of volunteer members and units too numerous to mention here.
At the moment, the Small Air Terminal personnel are housed in the current Air Passenger Terminal area of building 151. But the future holds a new 8000 square foot structure to house them along with Logistics Plans. The facility will be the first of its kind in the Air National Guard and only the third in the entire Air Force. Called a "Flightline Mobility Processing Center", it will be built in the area between building 138 (the Maintenance hangar) and the Gazebo. The bottom floor consists of two passenger holding areas (A and B), a cargo processing bay and a personnel processing hall. It will have everything necessary to house, and function as, a Small Air Terminal. Logistics Plans offices will be on the upper floor complete with overview windows in the Deployment Control Center for monitoring the processes below.
According to Command Chief Master Sergeant Mickey Phillips, construction on the new Flightline Mobility Processing Center is expected to start soon.
Up to this point, everyone on base has pitched-in to help with deployments, as mentioned earlier. Everyone who has been involved in one of these events can testify to the hard work and sweat that goes into it. We can all breathe a sigh of relief as this additional duty will now fall to the experts of the Small Air Terminal as their primary duty.