377th Air Base Wing Leaders experience a day in the life of Ground Transportation Airmen

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Alan Graham

Leaders of the 377th Air Base Wing recently took a trip to the 377th Logistics Readiness Squadron’s Ground Transportation Office in order to gain a firsthand look into what it is like to be a ground transportation Airman. The ground transportation element is comprised of 36 civilian and military operators led by 2nd Lt. Elena Brady, 377 LRS ground transportation officer in charge, and Tech. Sgt. Alan Graham, 377 LRS non-commissioned officer in charge.

During the visit, Col. Elizabeth Keller, 377 ABW deputy commander, Col. Jason Gale, Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the 377 ABW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Antonio Cooper, 377 ABW command chief, all had a chance to speak with Airmen and civilians. They also made time to get their hands dirty learning about how ground transportation keeps the mission moving. For the first stage of the visit the leaders learned how to secure down a standard forklift to a tractor trailer combination. With the help from the ground transportation’s lead trainer, Senior Airman Kenneth Sapanza, and two brand new airmen to the career field, Airman 1st Class Trinity Sutton and Airman 1st Class Dillon Rosenberg, they made quick work of securing the asset and preparing it for transport. They then learned how to operate chains and binders in order to secure the vehicle while at the same time learn how valuable communication was when it came to teamwork.

With the forklift secured they went on to the next station where the command chief had the opportunity to ride along with Sutton as she performed the 90 degree alley dock maneuver in the tractor trailer combination. This maneuver is regarded as the toughest driving portion of the Commercial Driver’s License Program’s Basic Control Skills course.

Sapanza explained how he trains new Airmen like Sutton and Rosenberg on the basic control skills and driving mechanics for buses and tractor trailers in preparation for the course. Graham joined Sapanza by pointing out the major changes to the Commercial Driver’s License Program since the Air Force adopted the same CDL requirements in 2019. With the adoption, the Air Force became the first Department of Defense component to make this transition to have the same CDL requirements as off-base equivalents. They emphasized how the Basic Control Skills Course is a critical component to Airmen getting licensed and having a successful career path.

The last stop for the leaders was a cordoned off area that is used to facilitate rollover training with a 28,000 pound commercial wrecker. Wrecker operations are a large part of what ground transportation specialize in.  In the event of vehicle accidents or incidents, the team responds to recover the vehicle. This particular training scenario started with a vehicle rolled completely over to its roof, with the goal of positioning the wrecker so that the vehicle can be recovered back upright on its wheels. The leaders were shown a quick demonstration before they gloved-up and took hold of the winch cables to start recovering the rolled over training vehicle.

After the hands-on demonstration was over Sutton went to the leaders’ vehicle to prepare their transport back to headquarters. However, they were not ready to leave just yet. Instead, they waved her back over to the group where Cooper then coined Sutton for her perseverance while working through the difficult obstacle course in the tractor trailer. She demonstrated that regardless of a vehicle’s situation or location, the ground transportation team will be there to make the recovery happen.