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727th AMS Air Freight Office helps equip warfighters

Airmen of the 727th Air Mobility Squadron prepare to unload cargo from a contracted commercial aircraft March 24, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. From ammunition to aircraft engines, the air freight office of the air mobility squadron helps in-process mission-critical equipment to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Airmen of the 727th Air Mobility Squadron prepare to unload cargo from a contracted commercial aircraft March 24, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. From ammunition to aircraft engines, the air freight office of the air mobility squadron helps in-process mission-critical equipment to the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Airmen of the 727th Air Mobility Squadron take a break after transferring cargo from the flight line to their warehouse March 24, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. Their schedule is influenced by how many aircraft arrive and the amount of cargo that needs to be unloaded . (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Airmen of the 727th Air Mobility Squadron take a break after transferring cargo from the flight line to their warehouse March 24, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. Their schedule is influenced by how many aircraft arrive and the amount of cargo that needs to be unloaded . (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Tech. Sgt. Melissa Durkin-Willman, 727th Air Mobility Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of passenger travels, pushes a cargo crate inside of a commercial aircraft March 24, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. Air transportation Airmen must often rearrange cargo, as not all assets on board an aircraft are destined for the same location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Tech. Sgt. Melissa Durkin-Willman, 727th Air Mobility Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of passenger travels, pushes a cargo crate inside of a commercial aircraft March 24, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. Air transportation Airmen must often rearrange cargo, as not all assets on board an aircraft are destined for the same location. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Staff Sgt. Johnny Barber, 727th Air Mobility Squadron combat readiness deployment manager, checks the cargo movement documents of two aircraft panels March 24, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. The air freight shop of the air mobility squadron receives assets essential to continued mission accomplishment . (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

Staff Sgt. Johnny Barber, 727th Air Mobility Squadron combat readiness deployment manager, checks the cargo movement documents of two aircraft panels March 24, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. The air freight shop of the air mobility squadron receives assets essential to continued mission accomplishment . (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

A configuration diagram specifies cargo arrangements within a just-unloaded commercial aircraft March 24, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. Air transportation Airmen of the 727th Air Mobility Squadron must ensure cargo loaded onto aircraft is properly distributed by weight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

A configuration diagram specifies cargo arrangements within a just-unloaded commercial aircraft March 24, 2020, at RAF Mildenhall, England. Air transportation Airmen of the 727th Air Mobility Squadron must ensure cargo loaded onto aircraft is properly distributed by weight. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Joseph Barron)

RAF Mildenhall, England -- --

The 727th Air Mobility Squadron Air Freight Office at RAF Mildenhall, England, serves a pivotal role in delivering mission-critical assets to the warfighter through their loading and unloading of cargo.

The cargo processed by the air freight office occupies one of three stages: arrival, departure, or temporary storage in their warehouse. The method by which each item comes in and goes out varies.

“We have unloading and loading operations for trucks,” said Staff Sgt. Jacob Straczuk, 727th AMS air transportation journeyman. “We also deal with aircraft, so we have to load and unload them and process the cargo that comes off. Anytime we check in cargo, we categorize items by their destination, priority and time in port.”

The office is divided into general cargo and special handling, with each section overseeing a different part of the air freight mission.

“Our general cargo section not only deals with downloading trucks coming in from the traffic management office and nearby locations, but our staff also loads the aircraft and makes sure the load plan for that aircraft is weighted and balanced properly,” said Tech. Sgt. Melissa Durkin-Willman, 727th AMS passenger travels noncommissioned officer in charge. “Our special handling section deals with making sure anything that is hazardous, signature service or registered mail is properly accounted for and moved forward.”

From bullets to aircraft engines, the air freight office processes a variety of assets.

“Weapons, ammunition, explosives - we’ll ship pretty much anything that can fit on an aircraft,” Straczuk said. “It could be as small as a screw to as big as an engine.”

Some shipments are more urgent than others, requiring a higher priority and air transportation Airmen to be available to process cargo at any time. 

“We supply high-priority cargo that needs to get places,” said Senior Airman Hocain Grant, 727th AMS air transportation journeyman. “We could get called in at any hour of the day depending on what it’s for because our schedule is dictated by mission requirements.”

The Airmen of the air freight office are often busy moving cargo between their warehouse and aircraft on the flight line, yet the importance of what they accomplish isn’t lost on them.

“We can ship pretty much any size piece of cargo anywhere in the world,” Straczuk said. “We’re leaders in rapid global mobility.”