774th EAS loadmaster ensures safe delivery of pax, cargo

Airman 1st Class Courtney Wagner, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, loads a pallet onto a C-130J Super Hercules Dec. 9, 2017 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Airman 1st Class Courtney Wagner, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, loads a pallet onto a C-130J Super Hercules Dec. 9, 2017 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Wagner is responsible for properly loading, securing and escorting cargo and passengers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Divine Cox)

Airman 1st Class Courtney Wagner, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, marshals a forklift onto a C-130J Super Hercules Dec. 9, 2017 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Airman 1st Class Courtney Wagner, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron loadmaster, marshals a forklift onto a C-130J Super Hercules Dec. 9, 2017 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Wagner is responsible for properly loading, securing and escorting cargo and passengers. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Divine Cox)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Extensive coordination goes into planning any U.S. Air Force flight. This rings especially true when transporting people and supplies from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, to austere airstrips throughout the country.

Assigned to the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Airman 1st Class Courtney Wagner, 744th EAS loadmaster, ensures all cargo and personnel are loaded correctly onto the C-130J Super Hercules and arrive safely to their destination.

Wagner said once the crew of at least four Airmen is alerted to fly, the loadmasters step to the plane first to prepare the plane to fix.

“Here at BAF, we are extremely busy,” said Wagner. “We fly one day and are off the next day for crew rest. On our off time, some of us go to the gym, but a lot of us study for the upcoming mission. We have to consistently stay in the books to make sure we are doing our job as safe as possible.”

According to Lt. Col. Angela Ochoa, 744th EAS commander, the Weasel Squadron is Afghanistan’s only tactical airlift squadron in the area of responsibility.

“Our mission is to provide combat airlift to enable the train, advise, and assist campaign,” said Ochoa. “The Weasels deliver unrivaled combat airlift in Afghanistan.  It doesn’t matter who, what, when or where, we will find a way to get it there, and loadmasters like Wagner make that happen for us.”

 

Wagner expressed why her job at BAF is important and why her job is critical to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing’s mission.

 

“My job is important here because without loadmasters, people wouldn’t get the equipment and supplies that they need,” said Wagner. “We support a lot of different forward operating bases in the AOR and without us they can’t get anything.”

Currently deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, and a Native of Pittsburg, Pennslyvania, Wagner joined the Air Force two years ago.

“I joined the Air Force for a couple reasons,” said Wagner. “School was the biggest driving factor. I [also] really wanted to do something that was going to make a difference and I thought that joining the Air Force was the best way to do that. I wanted to make my family proud and this was definitely the way to go. I knew I wanted to be a flyer and being a loadmaster is an awesome job.”

Currently serving on her first deployment, Wagner said she was motivated to deploy in support of operations in Afghanistan.

“I was super excited when I found out I was deploying,” said Wagner. “I kept asking to be on a deployment. I started out as an alternate then was told I was deploying. I was overwhelmed and really happy.”

Wagner is due to return home soon and said that she has really enjoyed her deployment and supporting missions here.

“My favorite part about this deployment is the missions and knowing we are making an impact here,” said Wagner. My job ties into the overall mission here because we support a lot of different FOBs, delivering them supplies and equipment.  I came out here with a lot of cool people and they make this deployment worth it. It’s like a home away from home.”