Managing one of the biggest military aerial ports might sound a bit overwhelming to some, but for the men and women of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron, the hustle and bustle of the gateway to Europe is no match for them.
The Ramstein Passenger Terminal is a unique military port here in Europe.
The PAX terminal falls under Air Mobility Command but is managed and run by Airmen and civilian contractors of the 721st APS.
“There is no such thing as a normal day,” said Airman 1st Class Roger Ruiz, 721st APS PAX Terminal technician. “Some of the numerous jobs we do are: unite servicemembers with their families, move wounded warfighters back to the states, transport dog handlers and ensure combat commanders’ troops arrive
Having such a direct impact on not only the Air Force but also the Department of Defense mission is a big motivator for the men and women at the PAX terminal.
“Knowing I support the mission directly gives me great satisfaction in my job,” said Airman 1st Class Dexter Harrison, 721st APS PAX terminal technician. “If we were not here, no one would be getting down to the war zones. It is nice to see our job has direct results.”
Though transporting warfighters and patients is quite a task, the mission of the 721st APS doesn’t stop there.
They are also responsible for managing the DOD Space Available Travel program. This program allows military members from all branches of service to fly to other military and some civilian ports for little or no cost to them.
“We cater to all services and even some foreign services,” said Airman 1st Class Staci Hill, 721st APS PAX Terminal worker. “We are constantly setting our passengers up with Space-A travel, ensuring they are able to trek to and from CONUS (Continental United States) and other places around the world.”
With Space-A Travel as an option, most would imagine it would get a bit crazy during the holiday months.
“Many people assume Christmas time is the busiest for the PAX, but in all actuality, every day is busy,” Airman Hill said. “This makes the holidays seem like just another day of business for us.”
Like most Air Force taskings, the mission never stops. The PAX Terminal is a 24-hour operation. In fiscal year 2008, 721st APS personnel transported more than 286,000 passengers alone.
“We get to see firsthand as the mission is happening. We get to help out servicemembers and hopefully expedite their travels,” said Staff Sgt. Luiggi Hernandez, 721st APS PAX terminal worker. “Though the number of passengers we cater to is vast, we receive satisfaction from knowing we have made their travels easier.”
The daily grind is no easy task, but there are a few benefits and rewarding moments that come with being a part of the PAX Terminal working force.
“The most rewarding part of our job is to see the smiles on the faces of the families when their loved ones come home,” Airman Harrison said. “We are reuniting families – it doesn’t get much better than this.”