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Integrated annual tour sharpens APS reservists

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Fifteen Reserve Citizen Airmen from the 302nd Airlift Wing’s 39th Aerial Port Squadron spent two weeks at Travis Air Force Base, California, performing their Annual Tour to gain practical experience in working with a variety of military aircraft and cargo loads while integrating with their active duty counterparts.

Air Force reservists have a responsibility to be trained and ready to perform their primary Air Force Specialty Code, duties and for the Peterson-based reservists, the experience at Travis is proving to be invaluable. For APS reservists and active duty Airmen, that means providing services similar to a logistics or freight hub for the armed forces. They coordinate and facilitate the movement of cargo that ranges from household goods, to submarine parts.

“At Peterson AFB, there is a lot of training we just do not have available to us,” said Master Sgt. Matt Sears, the 39th APS assistant team chief, who coordinated the trip. “As an aerial port, we need to be able to safely and effectively load multiple kinds of aircraft. In order to accomplish that mission we utilize various material handling equipment such as forklifts and K loaders. The workload here at Travis (AFB) is such that it allows us an opportunity to train on airframes we otherwise would not encounter at home station.”

While the reservists are benefiting from the first-hand experience their active duty counterparts are happy to have the extra help.

“They really do well and stay involved with everything,” said Staff Sgt. David Vanwhy, a 60th Aerial Port Squadron cargo operations shift supervisor stationed at Travis AFB. “Every pair of hands helps. In our case, Total Force Integration works out for both of us. We get the extra help we need and they get more experience.”

This experience so far has cast light on the benefits of an integrated force and the mutual benefits such an arrangement provides to both sides.

“This experience shows the importance of TFI,” said Staff Sgt. Erick Bohm, a 39th APS air transportation technician. “It demonstrates how paramount it is for the overall success of the Air Force. Out here, we are able to gain a lot more varied experience, which is what really prepares us for being downrange.”

At Peterson, APS Airmen normally work with the C-130 Hercules airframe. Since arriving at Travis reservists have been working with C-5 Galaxies, C-17 Globemasters, Boeing 747’s, McDonnell Douglas MD-11’s and their home favorite, the C-130.