Transporters make it happen at Manas

MANAS AIR BASE, Kyrgyz Republic -- The drinks are cold, the chili is hot, and ... the C-5 is on the tarmac?

For the 376th Air Expeditionary Wing's Ramp Services team, flexibility is paramount because last-minute changes to the daily flying schedule are common occurrences here.

When the planes touch down, the ramp services team has to drop everything - including dinner - and spring into action.

While aircraft rarely arrive as originally scheduled, they do arrive frequently here. Since the base stood up operations in December 2001, air transportation specialists like the this team of more than 30 airmen from Dover Air Force Base, Del., and Shaw AFB, S.C., have moved more than 20,000 pallets of cargo.

Some of the cargo they've handled on thousands of sorties includes pallets weighing up to 30,000 pounds, rolling stock like vehicles and generators, mail, rations, human blood, ammunition, hell-fire missiles, helicopter parts, and a myriad of other war fighting equipment that goes directly to Afghanistan to support the troops on the ground.

Since Manas is the tactical re-supply hub for the Global War on Terrorism efforts in Afghanistan, the air transporters push, pull, lift and roll palletized cargo off of strategic airframes like the C-5 Galaxy to ensure those same critical supplies rapidly make their way onto the base's C-130 Hercules for tactical airlift out of Manas and into the Operation Enduring Freedom area of operations.

This is critical because Afghanistan is a land-locked country, marking the first time in history that a war fighting effort is re-supplied solely by airlift.

"These dedicated warriors ensure critical cargo gets to OEF locations downrange," said Maj. Paul Bredholt, the 376th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. "They're the critical link for the OEF fight. I'm extremely proud of their proactive, mission-oriented attitude."

But America isn't alone and cargo that the 376th's transporters bring into Manas and subsequently push into Afghanistan supports more than 40 nations working together in the fight against Taliban and Al Qaeda forces.

The men and women who push the pallets here know why what they do is important, and doing that job the right way often means delaying a meal for a few hours so the mission is accomplished. According to the team's chief, these Manas Warriors wouldn't have it any other way.

"These guys love what they do, and it shows in the outstanding job they do everyday," said Capt. Edward G. Clarke, officer in charge of the 376th's Air Terminal Operations Center. "I'm most proud of the fact that my two Ramp noncommissioned officers in charge, Tech. Sgt.'s James Nation and Reynante Rivera, have accomplished the wing's mission without a single safety mishap."

The base senior leadership also recognizes this devotion and enthusiasm.

"These young men and women accomplish amazing things here each and every day to make this mission happen," said the 376th AEW Commander Col. Steven P. Kelley. "Their initiative and perseverance are nothing short of incredible, and the job they do absolutely waters my eyes."