by Capt Jose A. Quintanilla
721st Aerial Port Squadron
10/5/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- After
21 difficult stages covering a grueling distance of 3,360 kilometers,
this year's Tour de France came to a conclusion as competitors from 22
teams crossed the finish line. The teams rode 225 kilometers daily for
three weeks over both flat and exceedingly mountainous and challenging
Unlike the majority of racing sports where a single competitor wins the
race by crossing the finish line in first position, in the Tour de
France, each team has eight riders and a leader. The eight riders, known
as domestiques, set up their leader for the win. They are charged with
protecting, setting the pace and chasing down attacks by other teams for
their leader to succeed.
"These guys know full well they, as individuals, are not there to win,"
said Senior Master Sgt. Wayne D. Donnelly, the 721st Aerial Port
Squadron superintendent, during a recent squadron commander's call.
"Their job is to create a clear path for their leader to speed forward
past the competition, in essence, pushing him across the finish line."
Donnelly further assimilated this style of teamwork to what we do within
the Air Force, where as supporting functions, we enable the mission to
be executed - thus "Pushing Freedom" across the globe.
The 721st APS, located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is responsible for
the movement of passengers, aircraft fleet servicing, command and
control operations, and moves more than 62 percent of Department of
Defense cargo in support of five combatant commands.
Over the summer, 721st APS Airmen were challenged with uploading an open
staircase truck and two fire engines onto a C-17 Globemaster III in
support of President Barack Obama's visit to Africa. Our air
transportation personnel sprang into action and developed aircraft load
plans, requested updated Air Transportability Test Loading Agency
letters and planned and coordinated the upload of these three critical
assets with other base agencies.
With only four inches of clearance between the two fire engines, 721st
APS Ramp Services personnel took extreme caution to ensure the vehicles
were uploaded on the C-17 in a safe and timely manner. Communication was
critical between the spotters, operators and aircraft loadmaster during
the entire upload, which proved critical to mission success.
Having executed a timely and safe upload, the C-17 crew departed
Ramstein AB en route to Kenya prior to President Obama's arrival.
However, the 721st APS was still on the clock and ready to support
President Obama when he passed back through Ramstein AB the following
week. The APS Airmen executed flawless material handling equipment
support and fleet servicing operations on Air Force One, ensuring
President Obama was able to meet his other commitments.
And so, just as the Tour de France teams, we may not always be the ones
crossing the finish line in first place, but our supporting actions are
critical in placing our leaders in a position to make a positive impact
in the world and in doing so, we are the ones who are "Pushing Freedom"
across the globe.