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Vehicle operations keeps mission in gear

  • Published
  • By Airman 1s Class Grace Nichols
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Scattered among the hundreds of vehicles traveling on base daily is a unique fleet of transportation workhorses, maintained by a team of 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron Airmen.

The 19th LRS Vehicle Operations shop is comprised of a 25-man team with eight duty sections. The Airmen operate, inspect and maintain a 61-vehicle fleet comprising of sedans, buses and an array of heavy equipment vehicles. The heart of the work center is their dispatch section, which fulfilled over 15,000 transportation requests in 2016.

“One of our primary operations is transporting C-130 crew chief students,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Gregory Lishman, 19th LRS Vehicle Operations control center supervisor. “By taking them to and from training every day, we’re enabling them to go through class uninterrupted by the weather or the stress of having to buy a car during training.”

More than a taxi service, the 19th LRS Vehicle Operations also enables the Base Honor Guard to perform at funerals and ceremonies to honor fallen service members by providing them with a means for transportation throughout Arkansas and parts of Tennessee.

“The vehicle operations flight is the link between us and the families we provide honors for,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Miller, Base Honor Guard program manager. “Without transportation, we would not be able to execute our mission and provide the military funeral honors that fallen veterans, retirees and active-duty members rightfully deserve.”

At home or abroad, vehicle operators train to safely and securely transfer hazardous material for various units.

The toolkit of skills these Airmen carry impacts more than providing or operating vehicles.

“No matter where or when, the vehicle operations crew is a proud group of ground transportation Airmen that are always ready to support our Air Force family,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brian Leverton, 19th LRS Vehicle Operations supervisor.

As well as training and daily operations, this crew is also responsible for performing basic maintenance on the vehicles and operating buses for base tours.

From base to distinguished visitor tours, the Airmen cover the majority of the transportation needs required to enable the Home of Combat Airlift to be showcased.

“Whether it’s moving passengers or cargo, the logistical support we provide is a multi-dimensional part to the overall mission no matter where we are stationed,” Leverton said.

However, driving buses for tours is not as simple as hopping onto a tour bus; dry runs are implemented to ensure the vehicle operator is comfortable with the route and that the buses have the proper height clearance for certain areas.

Although big tour buses may be one of the more measurable aspects of the shop, it’s only a small piece of the 19th LRS Vehicle Operations flight’s mission. Their reach stretches from the gate to the flightline, ensuring the ground transportation needs of the Combat Airlift mission are met.

Supplying C-130 maintainers with flightline-approved vehicles directly effects the mission going off without a hitch.

“I think being one of the sole contributors to distributing parts to the aircraft so maintenance can work on them and put them back in the sky is pretty cool,” said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Alexander Colon, 19th LRS Vehicle Operations shop vehicle operator and dispatcher. “One of my favorite things about this job is delivering aircraft parts. It makes me feel pretty important and closer to the mission.”

The operators help keep the aircraft in the skies by overseeing the fleet of vehicles.