Five categories. 36 hours.

  • Published
  • By Maj Candice Allen
  • 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Competing in five categories in 36 hours, the combined team from the 36th and 86th Aerial Port Squadrons here, raced, lifted and drove in the Port Dawg Rodeo – the first in a decade at McChord Field on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

The five-person team was the only Air Force Reserve team, among the 14 teams that competed June 22-24.

“We were told that we were the only team not to hit any cones on the course,” said Senior Master Sgt. Eric Gregory, 36th APS assistant aerial port manager and coach, about the forklift skills portion of the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron-hosted rodeo at JBLM.

The rodeo included timed events in a center of balance marking and knowledge test, an aircraft upload, a 10K forklift skills course, a pallet build-up and a combat-fitness challenge.

The combat-fitness challenge proved to be the most challenging for the only Reserve team, said Gregory. Covering 2.8 miles, the fitness challenge forced teams to use self-aid buddy care skills, career-field skills and memory work to complete the course. 

Being a 14-year port dawg veteran, Gregory competed in the challenge before. Nevertheless, it was rewarding for him to see his team compete.

“I was on the team with the last, real-full Air Mobility Command Rodeo in 2011, and the route we ran for the combat fitness challenge was almost identical to what I did in 2011,” said Gregory. “(This year) I ran behind the team and encouraged them, so it was great to see them competing in this challenge.”

The rodeo is a tradition amongst aerial port squadrons, where Airmen display their skills, enhance their job proficiency and have a little bit of competitive fun in the process. Gregory said that competing in the rodeo helps Reservists stay combat ready by honing skills from aircraft loading to forklift driving, to center-of-balance marking challenge, which aerial transporters use daily in deployed environments. 

Aerial port squadrons are responsible for logistical functions of the aerial delivery mission including the rigging loading and recovering of airdrop equipment, as well as processing personnel and household goods.

This year’s competition was steep as Port Dawg teams hailed from Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey; Yokota Air Base, Japan; Kadena Air Base, Japan; Little Rock Air Base, Arkansas; Travis Air Force Base, California; Pope Field, North Carolina; Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Joint Base Andrews, Maryland; and MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

At the end of the day, the competition proved beneficial to Reserve combat readiness.

“The rodeo team members excelled during this competition at the 10K Forklift challenge,” Gregory said. “We did not win, but it was great to come out and compete, as we were the only Reserve team there.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Information from the 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs news article on the Port Dawg Rodeo was included in this news article.