62nd APS takes pride to another level

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Todd Wivell
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
It is a typical Wednesday morning at Team McChord stand-up meeting. The room is filled with commanders, chief master sergeants, civilian leaders, first sergeants, field grade and company grade officers, senior noncommissioned officers, NCOs and Airmen.

One by one the wing commander or his representative views slides from respective Team McChord squadrons and units and then it happens, the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron slide pops up and from the right side of the room Lt. Col. Bob Farkas, 62nd APS commander, yells out "port" and the commander and crowd crack a smile.

Although it may seem like an icebreaker or something to lighten the mood, it is actually a means of pride and lets the others know that a member of APS, also known as a "Port Dawg," is present in the room. The unique nickname is an acronym of their mission statements of "Professional Airmen/Civilians, Outstanding performance, Ready 24/7 365, Teamwork, Delivering our nation's assets, Always prepared, Whatever it takes, and Global impact."

Yelling squadron, group and wing mottos is common throughout the military but the Port Dawgs of the 62nd APS, easily identified by their distinctive red reflective belts, take it to another level.

"Yelling 'port' and responding with 'port' is a means of expression, approval, team unity and pride," said Farkas. "It is a universal response to anything and everything for Port Dawgs. I would equate it to the Army soldier yelling 'hooyah' referring to or meaning everything except no."

Whether it is during an Operational Readiness Exercise brief, a combat dining-out, a wing run, a holiday party or a Wingman day event, the more than 300 men and women of the 62nd APS are proud to yell out a "port" whenever and wherever they can.

"It all comes down to pride in what you do in your organization," said Farkas. "We've just taken it a step further than most other organizations that have a chant at an awards ceremony or graduation event.

"Anytime Port Dawgs are together, for whatever reason, someone starts it and you can count on others to join in. If you're in a room with a mixed crowd, you will know soon enough that the Port Dawgs are present."

Port Dawgs are responsible for loading the aircraft and ensuring safety of the cargo and passengers on the front end of the flight, stated Farkas. He elaborated that the Port Dawgs are on the other end of the download as well to ensure the cargo and passengers are offloaded safely and that the cargo is delivered to where it needs to go.

"It is a natural process and is all about pride with the squadron, both inside and outside of the unit," said Master Sgt. Dan Shipley, McChord Passenger Terminal superintendent. "We put a lot of pride in what we do and who we serve and we start teaching that same pride to our new Airmen as soon as they arrive from technical school. They feel that pride starting from day one and from there it is a contagious and continuous reaction."

It is contagious across the unit and it is contagious internationally as well.

"This is not a unit thing localized for just McChord," say Shipley. "It is international and at every base and every deployed location it can be heard.

"I have heard the 'port' yell while at a subway station in Tokyo, Japan, Oktoberfest in Germany, countless airports, on a cruise ship and even on a small island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. We may not remember each other's name but we always remember a fellow Port Dawg when we see them."

The aerial port community is very small but tight knit one, expressed Shipley. He said it is their way of recognizing the hard work and dedication Port Dawgs have to getting the mission completed.

"We take a lot of pride in the amazing work our Airmen do and this is just one way we can recognize the accomplishments of our outstanding Airmen," he said.

The next time you are in a meeting, at an event or just near a group of military members at a gathering, take a second to listen for that "port" yell. If you hear it, you know a Port Dawg is somewhere close by and ready to represent.