JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. --
Earning the name “America’s Airlift Wing” doesn’t happen overnight. To ensure that reputation stays with the 62nd Airlift Wing takes years of dedicated work from each Airman, each team and each flight of the C-17 Globemaster III. As of August 2021, the 62nd AW added another accolade to the list of reasons it is America’s Airlift Wing: being the home of Eagle Port, the Top Port Dawg Team at the 2021 Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) Port Dawg Rodeo.
The six 62nd Aerial Port Squadron Airmen who traveled to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, brought home two first place awards for Best Combat Fitness Challenge Team and Best 25K Halverson Upload Team. However, they didn’t stop there. The team also came home with a new title, the Top Port Dawg Team at the rodeo.
Hosted by the 735th Air Mobility Squadron, the competition judged five areas of aerial port capabilities -- a pallet build-up, 10K forklift skills course, center of balance marking and knowledge test, an aircraft upload and a combat fitness challenge. Although these areas of capability are just a normal day on the job for the Eagle Port, the team practiced for hours upon hours to ensure the minute they stepped onto the competition, they were ready and prepared to perform to the best of their ability.
Senior Airman Trenton Dancer, Senior Airman Connor Dickson, Senior Airman Hayden Floyd, Airman 1st Class Clay Huddleston and Tech Sgt. Ronald West, stood before their proud teammates and were presented their awards by Maj. Wesley Ekwall, 62nd APS commander, on Sept. 15, 2021, after an outstanding performance at the rodeo. Tech. Sgt. Emmanuel Escobar, the sixth member of the Eagle Port team, was unable to attend the ceremony but was recognized as well.
West, the team lead, stepped forward after the team received another round of congratulations from the squadron and leadership within the 62nd Maintenance Group, to give a few words to his Wingmen in the port squadron.
“The team just want to say thank you for all the sacrifices you made while we were gone [at the competition],” said West. “It was a team effort to get us there and to keep everything running here while and we couldn’t have done this without your support throughout the entire process.”
During the ceremony held at the 62nd APS warehouse to recognize the team, Senior Master Sgt. James Wall, the port squadron’s senior enlisted leader, put a few things in perspective for the port Airmen as they gathered to see their Wingmen be presented their awards.
“In about a year or so, just here at the home station, we’ve handled 7,000 tons of cargo, 11,000 passengers and safely launched 3,000 aircraft,” said Wall. “And that’s with about a third of our personnel gone all the time [deployments, TDY’s]. You are super good at what you do and we wanted to prove that to everyone else in the Air Force.”
When the opportunity to send a team and show our skills to our partners and allies came around, we essentially sent up a flag saying ‘Here I am, send me’, said Wall.
And send a team, they did. In fact, they sent the Top Port Dawg Team of the entire competition.