by Staff Sgt. Cody H. Ramirez
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
5/14/2015 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Members
of Yokota, serving at the primary airlift hub in the Pacific region,
often deploy to provide humanitarian aid to countries stricken by
natural disasters. In recent years alone, the 374th Airlift Wing has
deployed to support regional countries such as Japan after the Tohoku
earthquake in 2011, the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and
recently Nepal after the Gorkha earthquake April 25.
These deployments are typically initiated by an official tasking--a
document detailing a requirement for a specific amount of personnel,
equipment and aircraft, to be sent to a determined location. The
installation deployment officer takes this information and passes it to
the designated squadrons. The deployment of the 374th AW to aid the
people of Nepal wasn't typical though.
According to 1st Lt. Jeffrey Rearden, 374th Logistical Readiness
Squadron installation deployment officer, wing leadership knew there
would be a need for them, so they initiated a proactive plan to have a
mobility package ready. This meant Rearden and his office of log
planners would have to work backwards, building a deployment plan for an
estimated, but unknown, mission.
Rearden said he had to begin thinking about the possible ... "If we were
to send aircraft to select locations to support Nepal, what would we
need to bring? That is where the log planners came into play, we
determined, with the help of other units, what was needed for each
aircraft-- such as how many maintainers and what cargo." Rearden said.
Deployment lines were set up to ensure personnel tasked with "standby"
status for the mission were ready. More than 180 members were processed,
readying a backup for almost every position.
"We didn't know what was required ... we didn't know what country we
were going to or what medical immunizations would be required," Rearden
There is a lot of behind-the-scenes planning that goes into ensuring
members are trained and ready prepared for deployments. According to
Rearden, his team organized the tasking as well as they could with their
Once they had the personnel and equipment planning sorted, they needed
to have the cargo as prepared to leave as the personnel that would be
joining it. The LRS completed a local agreement order and sent a bulk of
the cargo work to the 730th Air Mobility Squadron.
"We are responsible of making sure the cargo is airworthy, which means
there are no discrepancies, weights and balances of the cargo is
accounted for and--if there is any hazardous material within the
cargo--that they are certified and able to fly," said Master Sgt. Rafick
Khan, 730 AMS airfreight section chief.
The airfreight section of the mobility squadron is broken down into
three specialty shops: special handlings, cargo and ramp functions and
load planning. According to Khan, every shop was essential in processing
the cargo for the 36th Airlift Squadron.
"These guys were eager to take hold of a real-world, out-of-the-ordinary
job," Khan said. "They knew this cargo was going to help people. All
the training they had received up to this point was about to be tested."
Special Handlings Airmen ensured cargo was inspected for weights and
balances and hazardous material compatibility. They conducted a joint
inspection on the 11 cargo bundles and ensured the cargo was transported
to their facility. Cargo and ramp function ensured the cargo movements
with inbound trucks and the cargo itself were offloaded safely and
by-the-books. And finally, the log planners loaded the equipment into a
cargo tracking system.
Afterward, the cargo was set into a "ready line" to allow for an efficient and smooth loading process.
"When it was time to load, all we had to do was put it on K-loaders and
bring it to the aircraft," Khan added. "We had everything ready to go
within 2 hours of the cargo arriving to the cargo port."
The team processed more than 50,000 pounds of cargo, and according to
Khan, his team put in more than 16 hours to ensure the cargo and
equipment were bundled, inspected and organized to be sent to Nepal.
"Training and teamwork is key to short taskings like this," Khanl said.
"The training to get these guys prepared had a big payoff. Everyone knew
After long hours of cargo inspections and preparing a deployment
package, four C-130 Hercules and nearly 100 personnel left Yokota May 5
to aid Joint Task Force-505 in its mission to support U.S. Agency of
International Development and the Government of Nepal.
"I think it shows just how flexible we are, being able to adapt on the
fly," Reardon said. "There were so many moving pieces to this movement,
but we were all flexible and patient with each other."