Port dawgs train with Army Abrams tank

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sean Evans
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

During the July 2021 Super Unit Training Assembly, Airmen with the 514th Air Mobility Wing managed to get their hands on an Army M1A2 Abrams tank from the New Jersey National Guard's Regional Training Site - Maintenance unit on base.

The 35th and 88th Aerial Port Squadrons coordinated with the National Guard to provide their Airmen with an opportunity to work with heavy equipment they rarely see at home station. 

“There was a lot of communication and coordination just to bring the tank over from Fort Dix,” said Master Sgt. Victor Lopez, an assistant flight chief of air terminal operations flight with the 35th APS. “It also took a lot of coordination with security forces to have them close the roads to get it onto the flightline.”

The purpose of the training was to give the Airmen experience with heavy vehicles in the event they had to be loaded onto an aircraft, such as a C-17 Globemaster III. Tanks are a type of heavy vehicle that are a more common sight in a combat environment, but uncommon in garrison during peacetime.

“This is a huge deal for us,” said Lopez. “We don’t get to train with this kind of equipment. This is the first time we’ve ever done this.”

In order to load such a vehicle onto an aircraft, Airmen must first start by locating the tank’s center of balance and conducting a joint inspection to ensure it is air worthy.

The 35th and 88th APS found the center of balance by having the tank drive over a telephone pole and conducted the joint inspection on the flightline the following day.

Senior Airman Drew Demeter, a ramp services technician with the 35th APS, was one of the Airmen who trained with the tank.

“It was a challenging process, but it’s rewarding at the end of the day,” Demeter said. “You get good hands on experience, it bolsters morale, and gets the unit to come together.”

This training opportunity not only benefited the Airmen of the 514th AMW, but also other various participants who were involved in making it come to fruition.

“Everybody from the load crew, flight crew, security forces, aerial port squadrons, and the Army got all kinds of training here,” said Lopez. “It’s excellent training for everybody."