Aerial Port Airmen Defend Cargo Movement System

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs

Call him the first line defense for defending the Air Force movement system.

As a hazardous material handler for the Aerial Port Flight of the 127th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Staff Sgt. Jason Bucholtz has a critical job: making sure things that shouldn't be mixed or packed together, aren't.

"You don't want certain chemicals on the same aircraft as other kinds," just as an example, Bucholtz said.

Bucholtz knows a few things about security: he started his military career with four years of active duty in the U.S. Army as a military police officer. After his discharge from the Army, he joined the Air National Guard at Selfridge Air National Guard Base about six years ago. He's been loading cargo ever since.

"What's not to like?" Bucholtz says with a shrug. "We all work together. I help out with a lot of different areas."

In addition to planning, accounting for, loading and unloading cargo, Aerial Port Airmen also operate the passenger terminal for military aircraft, ensuring the safe and efficient movement of personnel.

Technical Sgt. Rodger Zink said being safety-aware is the most important part of being a part of the Aerial Port team.

"If you don't do it safe, it all fails," said Zink.

"It can be easy to get complacent, but that's when accidents happen," he said. "So it is important to work with a spotter, so you have two sets of eyes on everything."

With the movement of pallets and a wide range of large and irregular-shaped equipment, Zink said getting a hand pinched between equipment or something dropped on a foot are the most common hazards in the Aerial Port.

"It's real easy to get a foot under a pallet, so you just need to keep your head in the game," Zink said.

Zink has spent all 12 of his years in the Air Force as a Aerial Port Airmen. He spent about six years in the Air Force Reserve at Selfridge doing the job and moved into the 127th Wing of the Air National Guard about six years ago. He estimates that he's been involved with the movement of hundreds of thousands of tons of cargo in that time.

"During my first deployment, I know I moved 40,000 tons and that was just one of five deployments, plus just what moves locally. It adds up pretty fast," he said.