Steel Airmen hone skills in joint training at Youngstown Air Reserve Station

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Lucas Weber
  • 911th Airlift Wing

In a collaborative effort, Steel Airmen from the 32nd Aerial Port Squadron recently journeyed to Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, for specialized training on engine running onload/offload (ERO) procedures for the C-130H Hercules. The training, conducted on January 6, 2024, brought together Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 32nd APS, Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS), and Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

Master Sgt. Lance Cooper, an air transportation specialist with the 32nd APS, led his team to Youngstown with a specific focus on preparing for the upcoming 2024 Port Dawg Challenge at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia. The primary objective was to practice unloading and loading on airframes not typically represented at his home base of Pittsburgh International Airport Air Reserve Station.

"Every airframe is different," emphasized Cooper. "We wanted to get hands-on training on some of the specific features that are unique to that aircraft."

Cooper's team, referred to as Port Dawgs, comprised Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Soisson, Staff Sgt. Angeliya Tango, Staff Sgt. Logan Plotz, and Senior Airman Tyler Leary. Despite being a relatively new team, Cooper commended the effective communication and accomplishments achieved during the joint training with Reserve Citizen Airmen from YARS and Dover Air Force Base. In an ERO environment, where Airmen have to battle backdrafts from four running turboprop engines, exhaust fumes and communicate through noise levels well above 100 decibels, unit cohesion paramount.

"The individual members of the team each learned something they didn't know before," Cooper explained. "They had the opportunity to practice and improve on the important task of loading this aircraft and grew more cohesive as a unit by spending time together and working towards a mutual goal."

Port Dawgs play a crucial role in inspecting, documenting, packaging, loading, and unloading cargo on aircraft. The Port Dawg Challenge, a tournament designed to enhance the efficiency of air transportation specialists, features various events, with the ERO being one of the 12 challenges scheduled for later this spring. The collaborative training session not only contributed to individual skill improvement but also fostered team cohesion among these dedicated Airmen.