Editor’s note: This is the first article in a three-part series on 721st APS operations.
The 721st Aerial Port Squadron has an important role in the Air Force’s mission, and there are more than 500 Airmen, U.S. civilians and host nation personnel and local national employyes spread over a variety of flights who make the mission successful.
“We have a unit full of highly skilled and highly motivated aerial port professionals committed to the mission,” said Lt. Col. Melvin Maxwell, 721st APS commander.
The mission of the 721st APS is to develop Airmen, provide air transportation services here at Ramstein and sustain three combatant commands.
“A quarter of the Air Mobility Command missions that transit the theater come through here,” Maxwell said. “Our location and this squadron is extremely important in sustaining the downrange warfighter.”
The Air Terminal Operations Center, a flight in the 721st APS, is the command and control nerve center for the entire aerial port.
The ATOC is the problem solving division of the 721st APS, its personnel ensure cargo gets onto the right flight and that everything and everyone is where it needs to be on flights coming in and out of Germany.
“The mission here is so huge we are always busy,” said Staff Sgt. Eric Reising, 721st APS information controller. “We are always communicating with the different units and checking with them to make sure everything gets where it needs to go.”
Part of that mission is making sure the 721st APS Ramstein Passenger Terminal gets all the information they need to complete their mission.
The passenger terminal processes space-available and duty passengers on contingency, channel and special assignment airlift missions.
“The space-available program allows military members from all branches of service and some family members to fly to other military and some civilian ports at little or no cost to them,” said Senior Master Sgt. Rich Rizzo, 721st APS Squadron operations superintendent. “There were more than 298,000 people who went through the passenger terminal last year, 51,000 of them being space-available passengers.”
With all the incoming aircraft there are many things that need to be done to keep those aircraft fueled, stocked and ready to go.
The Fleet Services Flight provides ground servicing, including lavatory flushing and potable water, deliver expendable and non-expendable kits, meals, igloos, pillows and blankets for passenger comfort.
Airmen of Fleet Services work on a variety of aircraft, each having a different routine to them.
“We work eight-hour shifts, servicing a large amount of aircraft,” said Airman 1st Class Evan Hughes, Fleet Services specialist. “We work on anything from the 37th Airlift Squadron’s C-130J (Super Hercules) aircraft to the Boeing 747 commercial aircraft that come through.”
The Fleet Services Flight won its second straight Air Mobility Command Fleet Services Flight of the year award and won its third straight Air Mobility Operations Wing flight of the year, becoming the first flight to achieve both milestones.
“We could not accomplish our mission without strong partnerships,” Maxwell said. “The 721st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and the 313th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron are our AMC partners at Ramstein, providing the aircraft maintenance and command and control capabilities necessary to execute our missions. Additionally, our 86th Airlift Wing partners who sustain our vehicles, fuel these AMC cargo aircraft and maintain our facilities and the ramp are major contributors in making the air mobility mission happen.”
(Airman 1st Class Trevor Rhynes contributed to this article.)