Crossing the Atlantic by air takes several hours, and jet fuel, water, food and toiletries are a commodity while airborne. This is where the Airmen of Ramstein come in, to refuel and resupply.
Aircraft can conduct a maneuver known as a “gas and go” that enables aircraft to refuel and restock supplies rapidly prior to flying out. Ramstein, being centrally located in Europe, receives a heavy flow of traffic, including the President of the United States on April 20. The recent mission echoed many of the previous stops.
“We have been very successful with the all POTUS missions,” said Dean Noe, 721st Aerial Port Squadron air terminal manager. “I have worked over 100 of them, and I don’t recall any time we have had a negative impact. Our guys are doing top-notch work every time.”
According to Noe, the 721st sends their best and newest out there to ensure mission success and training for future events. Out of all the Airmen who touch the plane during the gas and go more than 50 percent come from the 721st. Many of the aerial port squadron Airmen are fresh into the Air Force, and for many, a POTUS mission may be a once-in-a-lifetime event.
“Can you imagine what it’s like to tell an 18-year-old, ‘hey you’re going to work the President’s mission’?” Noe said.
The squadron has many first-term Airmen, and some of them working with Air Force One come from the fleet services flight. The fleet services team provides the restock during the gas and go, disposes of waste and makes sure the toilet water is refreshed.
Fleet services has another section known as the “clean side.” This side provides water, toiletries, pillows, blankets and anything passengers may need to continue their flight.
One of the Airmen who has worked with Air Force One is Airman 1st Class Davontae McKenzie, 721st APS fleet services specialist.
“I was honored to be chosen for a POTUS mission, and it felt good to be touching something that impactful and be part of a larger mission,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie and the 721st APS are not the only ones working with Air Force One. The APS works alongside security forces, fuels, maintenance and many other agencies.
“It takes a team, and we do it well together,” Noe said. “We work with multiple agencies around base coordinating things needed to support POTUS in order to ensure mission success.”
Shortly after touching down, Air Force One rolls down the runway restocked and refueled by the Airmen of Ramstein, taking the leader of the U.S. around the world.