August 31, 2015 (by SrA Cierra Presentado) - When mission essential goods need to be delivered to bases around Afghanistan, C-130J Super Hercules loadmasters provide the help needed to ensure cargo is placed in the right hands in support of NATO's Resolute Support mission.
C-130J Super Hercules crew chiefs assist loadmasters with moving cargo onto an aircraft before take-off on August 28, 2015, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan. [USAF photo by SrA Cierra Presentado]
The loadmasters here are deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and are responsible for helping transport cargo and people to and from various forward operating bases within the area of responsibility.
Loadmasters duties include the proper loading and unloading of cargo, passenger safety during flight, and ensuring the aircraft' weight and balance is within limitations to fly.
"Here in the AOR, we mostly deliver a lot of goods and cargo to folks at other FOBs. It's quite different from what we do back at home station," said Staff Sgt. Casey Strauss, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-130J Super Hercules loadmaster. "We have two loadmasters assigned to each mission and we basically go from FOB to FOB delivering cargo."
On a daily basis, the loadmasters make three to six stops a day at various locations in Afghanistan, such as Mazar-e-Sahrif Airfield, Harmid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and Camp Dwyer.
"We drop off different things such as food, medical supplies and ammunition," Strauss said. "Each mission is different. Sometimes we have large shipments and few passengers, and sometimes we have a plane full of passengers and no cargo."
When arriving at a location, the team coordinates with the Air Terminal Operations Center in loading and unloading cargo. Depending on the mission, the aircraft may stay in place for a few minutes or hours.
"We start at Bagram and go to each FOB that we have on our schedule. Some missions are quick and some last all day," he said. "It's a routine for us; we switch out loadmaster teams every other day so everyone gets a chance to get crew rest."
The team is scheduled to re-deploy home to Little Rock AFB soon, and will be replaced with a team from Dyess AFB, Texas.
"I've really enjoyed my deployment here, supporting the mission has been great," Strauss said. "It's great working with good professional aviators that care about getting the mission done successfully."