730 AMS keeps Yokota people, cargo moving

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael Washburn
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
In the civilian world, whenever the U.S. Postal Service needs to ship internationally, they use cargo planes. In the military, the process is pretty much the same except instead of mail, shipments include ammunition, food, supplies and even people. On Yokota Air Base, that mission is accomplished by the 730th Air Mobility Squadron.

Just like how a single football player can't win a game by himself, no one section of the 730th AMS can accomplish the whole objective, it is a combined effort between multiple areas. Everyone has a hand in the mission and almost anything can be shipped.

"We can move anything from explosives, cargo, human remains, classified and hazardous material," said Master Sgt. Froilan Halili, 730 AMS special planning section chief. "We decide what cargo goes on the plane. When it comes to hazardous material, we inspect it to make sure it's okay to ship."

Before the pallets of cargo can be loaded onto the aircraft, Halili and the other Airmen in his section balance the cargo weight. This ensures the weight is equally distributed between the aircraft's front, back and sides. If cargo isn't properly balanced, flying hazards are more likely.

The 730th utilizes a wide range of aircraft platforms. It's not just military planes either; civilian aircraft are used as well.

"We are in charge of all cargo inbound and outbound in the Pacific in regard to moving it to where it needs to go," said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Stanchak, 730 AMS cargo processing operations NCO. "On the commercial side, we use B-747s and DC-8s and mostly move household goods with them. For military, we use planes like the C-5, C-17, KC-10, KC-135, C-130 and C-40 and can move anything from beans to bullets."

With an aircraft on the flightline and cargo ready-to-go, the next task falls upon ramp services.

"We are the ones that load the aircraft with the specific cargo it needs," said Staff Sgt. Shameika Bailey, 730 AMS ramp service supervisor. "We get the load ready, and when the aircraft is ready to leave, we go out with a load team of three to four Airmen and get the cargo on the plane."

In addition to delivering cargo to military members and their dependents, the 730th can deliver much-needed supplies to Yokota's Pacific neighbors in the wake of a disaster.

In 2011, Japan was ravaged by a tremendous earthquake and tsunami. Immediately following the disaster, Operation Tomodachi kicked off. Its objective was to provide search and rescue efforts and humanitarian relief. At the heart of the operation was the 730 AMS.

Since the squadron's mission is delivering cargo, it's imperative the aircraft stay in tip-top shape. Maintainers and crew chiefs begin repairs at the drop of a hat should the need arise.

"We're basically the bloodline of the Air Force," said Staff Sgt. William Colavolpe, 730 AMS crew chief. "We keep the flow of aircraft traffic coming in and out of the base going. When aircraft come in, we debrief them, fuel them up, inspect the aircraft and take care of any maintenance they may need, so they can continue their mission."

Moving people is another area of expertise for the squadron as they are in charge of Yokota's Passenger Terminal and Space-Available travel. Space-A can be used by military members and their families when there are vacant seats on government-owned aircraft. Space-A is free and can be used to fly people all over the world.

And just like how a football team operates as a whole, a variety of individual units work together allowing the 730 AMS to run smoothly. In addition to the sections that specifically deal with cargo or personnel, other areas such as a tool shop and even an internal command post are needed for the squadron to function properly. Every area has a role and all are needed to get the mission done.