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3rd Aerial Port Squadron celebrates 60th anniversary

Maj. Joseph Whittington, 3rd Aerial Port Squadron commander, addresses squadron personnel and family members during a picnic March 29 celebrating the squadron's 60th Anniversary that officially occurred March 16 at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Maj. Joseph Whittington, 3rd Aerial Port Squadron commander, addresses squadron personnel and family members during a picnic March 29, 2013, celebrating the squadron's 60th anniversary March 16, 2013, at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C. (Courtesy photo)

In accordance with Chapter 3 of AFI 84-105, commercial reproduction of this emblem is NOT permitted without the permission of the proponent organizational/unit commander.

"JUMPING" Jiminy Cricket became a member of the 3d Aerial Port Squadron at Pope Army Airfield, N.C. on September 1959 when Brig. Gen. Clyde Box presented an emblem to Maj. Joseph J. Brown, commander of the squadron. Jiminy was drawn by Airman 2d Class Robert W. Dunlap, who won a contest among the members of the squadron. The emblem is a Disney copyright reproduction, but a copyright release was obtained for the unit's use of the emblem design for a mere $1.00. Jiminy Cricket uses his umbrella as a parachute to symbolize the role of the combat control section that used to belong to the squadron. In his other hand, he holds a loadmaster's load adjuster to symbolize the mission of the loadmasters. The smile on Jiminy is a reflection of the ongoing high morale of the squadron. Jiminy Cricket's cheerful demeanor reflects the positive spirit and "can-do" attitude of the squadron personnel who live the motto... AD ASTRA PER ARDUA... TO THE STARS THROUGH DIFFICULTIES

Maj. Joseph Whittington, 3rd Aerial Port Squadron commander, unveils an original Disney caricature drawing of the squadron's mascot, Jiminy Cricket, during a picnic March 29, celebrating the squadron's 60th Anniversary at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Maj. Joseph Whittington, 3rd Aerial Port Squadron commander, unveils an original Disney caricature drawing of the squadron's mascot, Jiminy Cricket, during a picnic March 29, 2013, celebrating the squadron's 60th anniversary at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C. (Courtesy photo)

The Walt Disney Corporation provided a caricature drawing of the 3rd Aerial Port Squadron's mascot, Jiminy Cricket, to celebrate the squadron's 60th Anniversary.  Maj. Joseph Whittington, 3rd APS commander, unveiled the drawing to squadron personnel and family members during a picnic March 29, celebrating the squadron's anniversary that officially took place March 16 at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C.

The Walt Disney Corporation provided a caricature drawing of the 3rd Aerial Port Squadron's mascot, Jiminy Cricket, to celebrate the squadron's 60th Anniversary. Maj. Joseph Whittington, 3rd APS commander, unveiled the drawing to squadron personnel and family members during a picnic March 29, celebrating the squadron's anniversary that officially took place March 16, 2013, at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C. (Courtesy photo)

3rd Aerial Port Squadron Airmen and family members go through the food line during a picnic March 29 celebrating the squadron's 60th Anniversary at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Third Aerial Port Squadron Airmen and family members go through the food line during a picnic March 29, 2013, celebrating the squadron's 60th anniversary at Pope Army Airfield, Fort Bragg, N.C. (Courtesy photo)

POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, FORT BRAGG, N.C -- More than 150 Airmen and family members from the 3rd Aerial Port Squadron gathered for a picnic here to celebrate the squadron's 60th Anniversary March 16, 2013.
 
As they look to the future, the "All-American Port" continues to move forward in spite of recent budget challenges and the changing operational environment.

"Our outlook is positive and optimistic," said Maj. Joseph Whittington, 3rd APS commander. "We will continue to draw strength and pride from our historic heritage as we build for the future. However, navigating through new challenges will provide our squadron the opportunity to invest in innovation both through technology, and more importantly, our Airmen. Our 60th anniversary illustrates the integration of past and present, and we are looking forward to expanding upon the strong foundation constructed by former 3rd APS Airmen."

Operating from the Green Ramp on Pope Army Airfield, the Port Dawgs have participated in many wartime campaigns; most recently Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. The squadron serves as the primary supporter of the XVIII Airborne Corps, as well as the 82d Airborne Division and their Global Response Force mission. Port Airmen have also been a constant force multiplier in Afghanistan and Iraq. The aerial porters bring both superior job knowledge, skill and leadership to the U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility.

Not only does 3rd APS support the GRF and war effort, but they also facilitate airlift support for humanitarian relief operations. On Aug. 29, 2005, the squadron directed the four-day outload of 1,883 passengers and 1,190 tons of cargo, delivering assistance to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. On Jan. 12, 2010, Port Dawgs promptly responded to the devastating earthquake in Haiti by transporting 1,300 tons of aid into the country. The squadron also provided emergency relief after Superstorm Sandy ravaged the Northeast region of the United States Oct. 29, 2012.

Nothing symbolizes the squadron's rich history more than its mascot, Jiminy Cricket. Rights for use were purchased from Walt Disney in 1959 for $1.00 after Airman 2nd Class Robert Dunlap won a squadron patch design contest. Jiminy Cricket and the historic patch embody the timeless legacy of the unit. The umbrella serves as Jiminy's parachute symbolizing the combat control section that used to be a part of the port. In his right hand, Jiminy is holding a load adjuster that represents the former inclusion of the loadmaster in aerial port operations.

The squadron was activated March 16, 1953, at Donaldson Air Force Base, S.C. The unit moved several times after its activation, relocating to Altus AFB, Okla., and then to Lawson AFB, Ga., before settling in to its permanent home at Pope AFB, N.C. in August of 1954. Squadron history includes a wide variety of missions, from standard paratrooper training to "big screen" logistics; most notably the movement of Keiko, the Whale from the movie, Free Willy. With 60 years of service to the United States, the "All-American Port," as designated by the 82d Airborne Division in 1999, is the oldest active duty aerial port unit in the U.S. Air Force.

The squadron's motto, "Ad Astra Per Ardua--to the stars through difficulty," remains the calling card as the 3rd APS continues to build for the future.