Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

February 19, 2011 at 2:16am

Story at a Glance • At the 4th Airlift Squadron, officers, enlisted and civilians work together in order to develop and sustain expeditionary airmen to deliver global airlift for America. Photos 1 of 3 Andrew Roberts, 4th Airlift Squadron unit prog

Andrew Roberts, 4th Airlift Squadron unit program coordinator, speaks to mission planners about training requirements Feb. 16 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. At the 4th AS, civilians, enlisted and officers work together to deliver global airlift for Am

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- It may take two to tango, but it takes three types of people to deliver global airlift for America.

At the 4th Airlift Squadron, officers, enlisted and civilians work together in order to develop and sustain expeditionary airmen to deliver global airlift for America.

"We safely execute our combat airlift mission at maximum velocity by utilizing all opportunities for realistic training while taking care of the Fightin' Fourth Family," said Lt. Col. Rodney Lewis, 4th AS commander.

As part of that family, Staff Sgt. Beau Messenger, 4th AS loadmaster instructor, explained how the squadron would not be able to function without teamwork and joint efforts.

"From the time that we enter our training program, it is ingrained in us that we each hold an equal position on the jet," said Sergeant Messenger. "The pilots and loadmasters have equal responsibility in terms of delivering the mission. That attitude carries over to our office jobs and I can really see the same culture apply even while we're not flying."

Sergeant Messenger is responsible for monitoring his fellow loadmasters in flight and ensuring their performance meets compliance standards. 

"As an instructor, I fly with them to keep their training current and up to date," said Sergeant Messenger. "To keep the squadron's performance up to par, I personally ensure every loadmaster is able to perform the way they need to."

Meeting the compliance standards would not be possible without the help of the civilian force, maintaining continuity and training records while the busy aircrew delivers the various missions.

"The civilians are the backbone of the squadron," said Andrew Roberts, 4th AS unit program coordinator and retired master sergeant. "We're the ones who stay here and keep track of everything while they're gone."

Before the squadron deployed in August of 2010, Roberts held the unit training manager position consecutively for four years. 

"I was responsible for keeping all training records up to date and making sure the Airmen were current," said Mr. Roberts. "There are only four civilians in the squadron, and our positions are civilian for a reason. Imagine how crazy and inconsistent the training records would be if the person in charge of them is gone for two weeks at a time."

As a former enlisted Airman, Mr. Roberts said he understands the importance of teamwork and he's glad to see another perspective.

"Some days I miss enlisted life, some days I love civilian life," said Mr. Roberts. "No matter which way you look at it, no matter what side you're on, you all have to work together. We're all pieces of the puzzle. The mission would be incomplete without all the pieces."

The third and final pieces to the airlift squadron puzzle are the pilots. According to Capt. Nathan Moseley, 4th AS pilot, successfully completing his duties would not be possible without the help of his enlisted and civilian coworkers. 

"I wouldn't be able to fly the plane without them," said Captain Moseley. "We work together while in flight and at the squadron to complete the missions accurately and safely."

During his non-flying days at the squadron, Captain Moseley is an executive officer to the commander and is responsible for items such as monitoring performance reports. Although executive duties are imperative, he says the itch to fly is unavoidable. 

"As a squadron, we fly anywhere from seven to ten local missions a week," said Captain Moseley. "We try to get on as many flights as we can while keeping our executive duties balanced. There are some days where my window overlooks the runway, and some days it's overlooking the clouds at 10,000 feet in the air." 

Whether it's a pilot flying the plane, a loadmaster scheduling the flight or a civilian maintaining the record, every member of the squadron can agree that teamwork is vital, and the 4th AS is a family. 

"The fourth is an awesome squadron," said Sergeant Messenger. "When we come back from a long mission, it just feels like coming home. We're a great big family. I'm very thankful that I ended up here."

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