Vehicle Operators get Airmen to their destination

By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Gonsier 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

All of the units on base must work as a team to effectively support the flying mission, and one unit ensures Team Barksdale has the vehicles needed to stay connected.

The Airmen at the 2nd Logistics Readiness Squadron Vehicle Operations transport Airmen and supplies as well as keep track of the GOVs Barksdale personnel use to do their mission.

"At the base level, our job is to support the flying mission," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Dustin, 2 LRS VO control center support section NCO in charge. "We pick up aircrew and take them to aircraft for their sorties. Once they are done with their mission and come back, we provide support to pick them up and drop them off to their post-mission briefings."

Vehicle operators support the maintenance side of the flying mission by rapidly delivering parts to the flightline and maintenance shops when needed, including parts for red ball incidents during aircraft takeoff preparation.

A red ball occurs when aircrew or maintainers realize there is an emergency on the aircraft during the takeoff. If the aircraft requires a part, the maintainers must order it and have vehicle operators transport it to them.

"We have 30 minutes from the time the customer calls for a red ball part to the time it takes to get the part to the maintainer working on the aircraft," Dustin said. "They call it time definite delivery. The maintainers have limited time to get a red ball aircraft fixed, and we have limited time to get it to them."

Other than the flying mission, vehicle operators provide transportation for high ranking individuals from the Air Force and its sister services, foreign dignitaries and other groups touring the base, Dustin added. They also support local base functions like the annual airshow and youth center events.

Arriving at a destination early is something vehicle operators strive for, said Airman 1st Class Christopher Dalton, 2 LRS VO apprentice. At any moment a distinguished visitor may leave early or a pick-up point can change so, the Airmen need to be flexible to perform this job.

"We have a big presence on the base, and it's important we show professionalism and timeliness to our customers," Dalton said. "Our customers need to know we can do the job safely and effectively."

While the 2 LRS Vehicle Operators move many passengers around the base, they also loan out GOV's to base units. Sometimes, units need buses, vans, forklifts and more to complete their mission, Dustin said. When this happens, the requesting units vehicle control officer files a request form with them.

When GOV's break down, either vehicle maintenance or vehicle operations is contacted to retrieve the GOV.

"We have a rollback wrecker and 5-ton wrecker used to retrieve vehicles that break down," Dustin said. "The rollback wrecker is used to retrieve vehicles weighing a few tons while the 5-ton wrecker is used for tractors, buses and other large vehicles."

After retrieving the GOV, it is sent to vehicle maintenance to receive necessary repairs.

Other than supporting Barksdale's mission, vehicle operators must maintain deployment readiness. Vehicle operators see a completely different part of their career field while deployed.

"Deployments are quite different compared to base support," Dustin said. "A lot of the times we do the line-haul, which is convoy duty. It's moving any war time items that are needed: weapons, bullets, food and supplies."

There are vehicle operators who have received silver stars and other awards and accolades for their duty. They have driven through direct combat and experienced roadside bombs blowing up on their vehicles.

"It's a pretty dangerous duty and there are quite a few of us operators who have done the line-haul mission," Dustin said.

The Airmen at the 2 LRS VO have a mission which directly affects all aspects of the Barksdale mission. From ensuring flightline maintainers receive the parts needed for planes to get off the ground, to driving hundreds of miles down range transporting supplies to troops, vehicle operators take great pride in their duty.