JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.— --
Whether its cargo, passengers, military aircraft, or transient aircraft the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron Air Terminal Operation Center has a hand on every aircraft that lands on McChord Field at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
ATOC coordinates all outside requests for agency support and information and distributes them to the different sections throughout the aerial port for proper coordination.
“We are the command and control for the 62nd APS,” said Master Sgt. Brandon Banks, 62nd APS ATOC superintendent. “We deal with worldwide channel missions, contingency missions and aeromedical evacuation missions. In this section, all flow of cargo and passengers being handled by the aerial port is managed, accounted for and tracked by us."
More than 30 personnel work in the ATOC. Working around the clock, providing military logistical functions assigned to aerial port.
“We go out to every aircraft and find out what they need from the aerial port,” said Banks. “Within the APS, we manage the passenger terminal, ramps services section (loading and unloading of cargo), fleet services (cleaning the aircraft), and the special handling section (handling explosives). We go out to every aircraft and kind of direct all those sections of the APS.”
Ron White, 62nd APS ATOC flight chief, said here at McChord, the workload at the ATOC can be a challenge sometimes.
“We support the Army and move a lot of their passengers and cargo,” said White. “Our joint inspectors, inspect their gear and a lot of the challenges comes from the different verbiage and language we each use.
“A lot of the contingency missions we deal with are from the Army, to load their cargo and passengers. We have specific requirements that we need done ahead of time for the mission to flow properly and the Army doesn’t recognize that because they don’t use our processes, but we still manage to push through the challenge and get the mission done.”
Another challenge that adds to the operations center workload is the deployment tempo.
“APS Airmen deploy a lot,” said White. “So with a six-month deployment, we might see the Airman for three months out of the year because of training and schooling they may need before they go. So it’s a challenge to keep them qualified and get them back in the rotation. At ATOC we help the APS flow properly, and with the deployment tempo, there can be sections that are low manned, so we kind of take over and divert people wherever to make the mission happen.”
In order to work in the ATOC, Airmen are required to have a good knowledge of all the sections within the port.
“We do not get pipeline students in ATOC,” said Banks. “There is a requirement that the individual is supposed to be knowledgeable in all the other sections to be able to work ATOC. Those selected to come work ATOC don’t have a lot of time to get spun up on everything, so they need to know the basics about every job. A lot of the slots in ATOC are one deep, so training consistently is a struggle, but we still get the job done.”
White is a retired aerial port Airman and loved the job so much that he decided to continue giving back by working in the ATOC as a civilian.
“I absolutely love working at that the port and watching all the great things we do here,” said White. “I retired out of here, I was away from it for two years after I retired and missed every minute of it. ATOC is the focal point for the other sections, and you can’t run the APS without it. You need someone to coordinate and direct everything, and ATOC is the brains of the operation.”