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Port Dawgs run in memory of fallen

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Sarah Johnson
  • 60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – A group of runners ran a solemn five-kilometer loop throughout Travis Air Force Base, California, May 17, different in every way but their shared title: they were all Port Dawgs.

Members of the 2T2 Air Force career field of air transportation, commonly known as Port Dawgs, joined together to honor those lost in the past year during the 2017 Annual 5K Port Dawg Memorial Run. The event was held in coordination with National Transportation Week, which celebrates U.S. land, air and sea infrastructure and those who build and maintain it.

At Travis, Port Dawgs are part of the 60th Aerial Port Squadron, 821st Contingency Response Squadron and 349th Air Mobility Wing. They are responsible for securely managing all cargo and passengers that process in and out of the base, as well as ensuring it is safely and rapidly transported on the aircraft.

Because of their title and the fast-paced nature of their work, the career field has a strong sense of family, said Master Sgt. Hugh Archer, 60th APS.

“We have a unique calling,” he said. “You can hear the chant of ‘Port Dawgs’ anywhere and you’ll hear the bark back. They refer to us as Port Dawgs because your dog is your best friend and they’re very loyal. We are loyal to each other, and we’re a global organization whether you’re stationed here at Travis, or at Dover (Air Force Base, Delaware), or as far off into Thailand or even Osan (Korea). A 2T2 is a 2T2, a Port Dawg is a Port Dawg, no matter who you are.”

“When you’re travelling and you’re going into the (Area of Responsibility), you know a Port Dawg is going to receive you,” he said. “When it’s time for you to leave, a Port Dawg is going to get you out of there. Whether you know that person or not… we have that bond that’s unbreakable.”

With the close-knit atmosphere comes a time to grieve and remember those in the career field that lost their lives.

To honor the fallen, runners passed by four sets of American flags placed throughout the route. The name of a fallen Airman was written near each one.

“As you run past those flags, remember and reflect on why you’re here- why we’re all here,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jamie Vanoss, 821st Contingency Response Group command chief.

“I feel grateful,” said Senior Airman Peter Baez, 821 CRS. “I’m grateful that every day we get to come home alive. Even though they’re gone, we still remember them.”

Along with his fellow Airmen, Baez said the run filled him with a sense of pride for the work he does.

“Even though we have different backgrounds and we’re assigned to different squadrons, our career field brings us closer together,” he said. “We can call each other family, even though all the differences we have.”

“It humbles me,” said Archer, 60th APS. “It helps me realize that what we do is very impactful. A lot of our Airmen think ‘Well, I just move people and cargo here and there,’ and they just feel like they’re a cog in a big wheel we call (Air Mobility Command). But by us remembering who has come before us, who has come after us, and the people that we’ve lost, hopefully they see the big picture and see that they actually matter, and we care whether (they’re) here or not.”

The event began with opening remarks from Vanoss, who challenged each Airman to look out for one another.

“Sometimes we’re too tough to ask for help… we’re too tough to reach out to the person that’s to our right or to our left,” he said.

That toughness is also what makes them so successful, he added.

“Look at every location throughout the (Area of Responsibility) and what’s the one commonality that you’ll see?” he asked. “Aerial porters. We are like the Swiss Army knife of the Air Force. We do it all. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for being less than one percent of our nation that will ever put on the uniform, and less than 0.0025 percent of our Air Force that are Port Dawgs.”

After a Port Dawgs chant, the runners were sent on their way to complete the race and reflect on their fallen fellow 2T2s.

“(The run is) a reminder of how blessed I am to be alive and to be able to remember the people who (gave) everything,” said Senior Airman Tahj Beaudoin, 821st CRS. “Just to be able to come out here and run, it costs something. It’s more than I could ever pay back.”

As the runners crossed the finish line, they gathered once again for a moment of silence, breakfast and closing remarks from Chief Master Sgt. Joshua Tidwell, 60th APS superintendent.

“One of the great things about our career field is none of us are heroes by ourselves,” he said. “Everything that we do as aerial porters takes teamwork… (but) sometimes, we try and do our individual lives by ourselves. We are sometimes hard on our own, especially when we’re driving for a demanding mission.”

“Take time to listen to the person next to you, and make sure they know that even as they’re pushing and driving toward the mission, they’re important (and) their contribution to the mission is valuable,” he said.

The Port Dawgs returned to work with the memory of their fallen, but even more grateful for the camaraderie they share.

“It’s a proud moment when we come together,” said Archer. “When you hear the chief yell out ‘Port Dawgs’ and you hear the grunt back, you know you’re among family.”

Gone but never forgotten:

Master Sgt. William Davis

Master Sgt, Kelly Bartholomew

Staff Sgt. Jonathan Turner

Airman 1st Class Russel Deleon