21st TSC’s 1st HRSC welcomes Ramstein’s first Patriot Express flight

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Taylor
21st TSC Public Affairs

After many months of planning, coordinating and preparation, 21st Theater Sustainment Command’s 1st Human Resources Sustainment Center personnel were able to put their hard work to use as they welcomed passengers at the Ramstein Passenger Terminal from the first Patriot Express flight at the Ramstein Gateway Reception Center here Tuesday. The 1st HRSC received and inprocessed approximately 120 Soldiers and family members. The Patriot Express is a Department of Defense chartered method of air travel, which transits between the Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Ramstein Air Base.

“The Air Force and the Army requested that passengers coming to and leaving from Germany be transported on Patriot Express missions,” said Colonel Glenn Chadwick, the 721st Air Mobility Operations Group deputy commander. “These flights save money, time, and provide better security and accountability for service members as they now go directly to or from a military installation here in Germany.”

Eventually it will be the primary airlift for service members, family members and DoD Civilians on permanent change of station and temporary duty orders between Germany and the U.S.   

During the reception, RGRC personnel inprocessed 52 Soldiers, 68 family members and 10 pets, in addition to 293 bags. Newly arrived Soldiers were sent to 11 different U.S. Army Europe military communities throughout Germany.
Previously the 1st HRSC processed about 19,000 Soldiers and family members yearly at the Frankfurt International Airport. The Patriot Express mission is expected to safely transport this same number of personnel annually. There are seats available for DoD personnel also, however Chadwick said the Air Force and Army members are expected to make up the majority of the passengers.

According to Maj. Patrick Niestzche, the officer in charge of the RGRC, and a native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., the RGRC staff set a goal to have all Soldiers and family Members inprocessed within three hours from the time the first person steps off the aircraft till the time the last person departs on the bus headed toward their assigned duty station.

The RGRC not only achieved their goal but completed their mission with time to spare, inprocessing 120 personnel in two hours and 40 minutes.

“Today the mission went as we had planned, all timelines were met and we successfully processed all the Army permanent change of station Soldiers and family members through our reception center and on to their community of assignment,” said Niestzche.

“Our goal was to be able to process all Soldiers and family members and have them on the way to their gaining military communities within three hours of flight arrival. We were able to accomplish that, which is a huge success for us,” said Niestzche.

“With this being the first time we have done this process at the Ramstein Gateway, as with any other mission we came away with a lot of after-action review comments and things we still need to work on internally to make this reception mission an even more efficient and streamlined system.” 

“One of the guys that I was inprocessing said things were flowing really smooth and that we should keep up the good work,” said Spc. Nicholas J. Collington, a liaison at the RGRC and a native of Washington D.C. “That was good to hear from a sergeant first class so I feel the process was very successful.”

The reception team at RAB will continue tracking flights and possible delays and be readily available to receive incoming personnel regardless of the time or day the flight arrives.

Even though this is the first full-time mission, this isn’t a new task for the air mobility group.  “This is the first dedicated flight for service members and their families,” said Chadwick. “However, Patriot Express flights are flown three times a week through Ramstein on their way to bases in Southwest Asia, so this isn’t a new mission for us.”

“On a one to 10 scale I would give this experience an eight and up, it was an excellent trip and everything else went so smooth. It was well above any other flight I’ve ever taken,” said Spc. Trenton Kerschner, a K-9 handler headed to Wiesbaden Germany and a native of Hot Springs, Va. “I would definitely do this again. If I could catch one of these on leave while I’m going home I would love to, rather than catching a civilian flight.”