By Heather Heiney | 21st Space Wing Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — The Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, passenger terminal was recently named the best small air terminal in the Air Force. Even though it’s classified as a small air terminal, it serves 47 units across the entire Front Range, processing thousands of troops and tons of cargo every year for Peterson AFB, Ft. Carson and Schriever AFB.
“We deploy any and all forces to and from this area,” said Master Sgt. William Mangin, 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of the passenger terminal.
The mission of personnel in the air transportation career field, also known as Port Dawgs, is to inspect, manifest and load any and all cargo and passengers onto aircraft that deploy from or return to Peterson AFB. They ensure that everything meets weight requirements and is safe for flight during both real-world and exercise scenarios. During fiscal year 2018, the team supported 224 missions by processing about 12,000 passengers and 3,000 tons of cargo.
“As an air transporter, things don’t get on the plane unless we put them on the plane,” Mangin said. “It’s definitely very important to the Air Force’s overall mission, and even the DoD’s overall mission, as far as getting stuff where it needs to go in an expeditious manner.”
Mangin also said one aspect of his work he enjoys the most is being able to support joint partners in the area because their equipment and personnel go through the terminal as well.
“I’m in the Air Force, but at the same time, I’m helping the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Army,” Mangin said. “You garner a close working relationship with the people in those branches as well and then you get to see all the cool stuff that they get to do and send them on their way, or even receive them after they’ve done all of it.”
Larry Wilkerson, 21st LRS transportation flight chief and deployment officer, said that the terminal’s mission is so important because without it, nothing moves.
“You won’t have the airfield working, you won’t have deployers getting down range, you won’t have the Army moving,” Wilkerson said. “The mission they provide to the base and to Ft. Carson is pretty large in respect to other small terminals.”
Mangin said that the unit’s greatest challenge was the death of one of their fellow Port Dawgs in August 2018. During that time, he said the unit had to make sure they took care of one another, but also continued the mission.
“Desite that, we still did amazing things in 2018, we still won the Air Force small air terminal of the year because we have a lot of really, really good people working in this shop,” Mangin said.
“Number one, you’ve got great personnel led by an outstanding NCOIC,” Wilkerson said. “We’re proud of them and I think the wing should be proud of them too because they do provide critical mission support to what the space mission is here.”