Moving the masses

by Josh Aycock
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Kasper Chevalier is a man who simply loves his job. As a member of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron he recently hit a significant milestone in his career.
The milestone was sentimental to both him and his unit as he completed his 721st aerial port expeditor, or APEX, load.

Mr. Chevalier goes by the book, and is compassionately called a workaholic by his supervisors and coworkers. The amount of loads he does in nine months takes other APEXers two years to complete. In fact, Mr. Chevalier has the most loads of any single APEXer, military or civilian, worldwide. 

His leadership recognized his dedication, and awarded him the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing Local National (non-supervisory) civilian of the year for 2010.
By all accounts, Mr. Chevalier is an important part of the 721st APS mission to provide all passenger, cargo, and aircraft servicing capabilities for all airlift and tanker missions transiting Ramstein. In 2010 this equated to 286,000 passengers, 63,000 tons of cargo, 11,000 trucks and 14,700 aircraft.

We recently caught up with Mr. Chevalier to get a better look at the man behind the boxes.

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Question: What is significant about 721 loads?
Answer: 721 is a milestone because my squadron is the 721st Aerial Port Squadron. Many APEX load directors go their entire career without getting such a high number.

Question: Is it more significant because you are a civilian?
Answer: I don’t think so. As part of the 721st team, there is no difference between civilian or military. We just wear a different uniform. For the APEX program as a whole it is somewhat significant.
Worldwide, there are only five foreign local nationals APEX load directors. They are all stationed at Ramstein and each one is fully qualified on both C-5s and Boeing C-17s. To date, I have the most APEX uploads for any foreign local nationals so from the Air Force level it is a unique achievement.

Question: What is the team like that you work with?
Answer: It changes every year, like most sections in the Air Force, but it is always a diversity of 11 local nationals and 65 Airmen. I especially like working with the American men and women. They all come from different cultural backgrounds, from different states and territories, some of them far away from their families and far away from their hometowns. It is really fascinating.

Question: Your co-workers call you a workaholic, why?
Answer: Yes, one of my co-workers joked about me being the “Flying Dutchman” and never standing still. Really it is just simple dedication. I love my job, I am very proud of what we are doing here at Ramstein. My wife and I left our country, the Netherlands, five years ago. When I think of what I have done in that short time in this career field, it is pretty amazing.

Question: What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Answer: The fact that the warfighters downrange are getting everything they need in order to do their magnificent and dangerous jobs, that they get them on time and in perfect operating condition, and all those C-17s and C-5s are making their slot times.

Question: Your leadership says you have the most loads of any APEXer, how did you get
Answer: I think by being outside on these aircraft as often as possible and volunteering on every
possible mission available. I love being outside.

Question: Is it an honor to have the most loads?
Answer: It is an honor but I always remember that I can’t do it all by myself.
My fellow load team members, my management, the aircraft and vehicle maintenance folks all help make every single mission possible. These countless folks working on the behind the scenes of every mission deserve the credit.
Without them there are no APEXs. The ground crew is often forgotten, but if there is one thing I am sure of after 721 APEXs, it’s that in the end the mission does not move without AMC.