RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany --
After nearly four decades of dedicated work, one would hope they have left a mark on their work center. One 721st Aerial Port Squadron member has done that and more.
As the 721st APS Fleet Service supervisor, Gertrude Grosskopf has trained many fleet services Airmen who have come through Ramstein since she started working for the Air Force in May 1977.
“I like showing the new Airmen their work but also why they are doing their work,” said Gertie, as she is affectionately called.
Gertie said she likes to instill in Airmen that they are helping to showcase the Air Force to the world but also provide a comfortable place to the individuals who use the aircraft they keep clean, including distinguish visitors such as the President of the United States or service members who are transporting medical evacuees.
The comfort Gertie speaks of is best shown when looking at air transportable galley and lavatory units, which also happen to be the items that have made her a living legend.
ATGLs are portable mini kitchen and toilet units that are put on flights that require extra comfort or added lavatory facilities, and as the 721 APS ATGL manager, Gertie is the go-to person for the squadron.
“When the new Airmen come in, she’s presented as their supervisor, their boss,” said Tech. Sgt. Michael Lewis, who served as the 721 APS Fleet Services flight chief during his time at Ramstein. “Honestly, as long as she’s been here, I consider her my boss. With the continuity and knowledge she has, I’d be stupid not to think that way.”
Lewis isn’t the only one to think that way as Gertie is also often referred to as the go-to person for all of Air Mobility Command.
In fact, people have been sent to her from all over the world to be trained on maintenance and care for the current ATGL units.
Her own training on the ATGLs began when she took it upon herself to learn how to do maintenance on the on the old ATGL units they used 1979.
“I would open them up, look to the (technical order), and do everything on my own,” Gertie said. “When the brand new ones came out, they got very expensive because of the additions to them. I told them if they wanted me to take over the new ones like I did with the old ones, they have to give me a building where I can work on them and keep them out of the weather.”
Gertie got an area to store and work on the new units, and she also got sent to training to become more knowledgeable about the new units.
“I did it because it is my job,” Gertie said. “People appreciate my work, and they trusted me to do my job.”
Luckily, Gertie did do her job and obtain the knowledge to remain the go-to person on ATGLs, but she didn’t keep it to herself.
Over the years, she received people from around the Air Force who she trained on the ATGLs. Gertie estimates she’s trained more than 1,000 people on the units.
“I think what I’ll miss most is doing my part, putting my knowledge into the squadron,” Gertie said. “You know when it comes to work everyone is replaceable in some form or another, but not me with ATGLs. Of course, someone will be able to do the job but not the way I do it.”
The 721 APS is part of the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing, headquartered at Ramstein.