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374 LRS keeps everything in motion
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Tech. Sgt. Justin Pittman, 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle dispatch operator, monitors vehicle operations on his computer here March 23. In the last two weeks, LRS has tripled their efforts, to include shuttle bus operations and issuing government vehicles to units that have acquired additional personnel in part of the relief effort. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Chad Strohmeyer)
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Vehicle operations crew keeps Operation Tomodachi moving at Yokota

Posted 3/22/2011   Updated 3/22/2011 Email story   Print story


by Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/22/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan  -- After yet another 12-hour work shift, Tech. Sgt. Justin Pittman came home, ate dinner with his family and turned on the news. That's when the vehicle dispatcher saw exactly how his job at Yokota has made a difference for the people of Japan.

In the footage, emergency crews were using fire trucks to hose down a nuclear power plant damaged in the recent 9.0 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami. Sergeant Pittman recognized one of the trucks. After all, he helped deliver it to the emergency workers.

Sergeant Pittman is one of a handful of Airmen at the 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron's vehicle operations element keeping the relief mission rolling at Yokota.

"Whether it's cargo, crews or passengers, it doesn't move unless we move it," Sergeant Pittman said.

Since the multi-national launch of Operation Tomodachi to help the Japanese people recover from the recent disasters, vehicle ops Airmen have been some of the busiest on base.

The element has:

- Extended shuttle service hours to 24 hours a day
- Quadrupled the number of shuttle routes around base
- Quintupled its aircrew transportation missions
- Moved ten times as much cargo as they do on a typical day

"It really is a testament to the teamwork here at Yokota," said Tech. Sgt. Shawn Foust, the NCO-in-charge of the vehicle ops nightshift. "I know my crew is tired, but they don't whine or ask for days off. We'll get them some downtime later, but for now everyone realizes we have a job to do.

"In fact, six of my guys just got back from running convoys for the last nine months in Iraq," Sergeant Foust added. "They didn't get time off and they haven't even finished in-processing, but they're out there making the mission happen because it has to get done."

Fortunately, the crew already had solutions to their increased workload. According to Sergeant Foust, they're taking lessons learned from Yokota's recent weeklong operational readiness exercise and applying them on a daily basis.

"We just practiced a lot of this stuff for the ORE, so we were already in a high-ops tempo mindset," Sergeant Foust said. "We're tweaking some of our processes as we have to, but as long as everyone is safe and applying their (operating instructions), real world contingencies is the best training you can get, especially for the younger troops."

Airman Brian Gallacher has been in the Air Force less than a year and already has the "experience level of a three-striper," Sergeant Foust said.

"It's been really fast paced and there's always something to do, so I stay busy" Airman Gallacher said. "Whether I'm moving pallets or people, I know that some part of what I'm doing is helping somebody somewhere, so that's pretty rewarding."

For Sergeant Pittman, the operations tempo makes him feel like he's still deployed ... with one minor exception.

"I get less sleep now than when I was in Kuwait," he said. "But it feels good to know what we're doing is helping the people of Japan."

So while he's just looking for a good night's rest, when he does get some time off, he suspects his daughter will have other plans.

"We're going to Tokyo Disney!" Sergeant Pittman laughed. "Well, once it opens up again.

"But seeing that fire truck on the news really made me feel good," he added. "You don't always get to see a direct effect of what you do, but I knew we helped a lot of people that day."

3/23/2011 2:14:08 AM ET
So incredibly proud of being part of the 374th LRS...and the Yokota team
Erica Hix, Yokota AB
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