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71st RQS loadmasters maintain supply, enable mission

Photo of an Airman packing issued equipment into a bag.

Airman 1st Class John Wheeler, 71st Rescue Squadron loadmaster, packs issued equipment into a bag Feb. 5, 2020, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Three 71st RQS loadmasters are responsible for more than half a million dollars’ worth of mission essential equipment. They ensure members of the 71st RQS have gear required for the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Azaria E. Foster)

Photo of an Airman checking off a list of issued equipment.

Senior Airman Stephen Cumbee, 71st Rescue Squadron loadmaster, checks off a list of issued equipment Feb. 5, 2020, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Three 71st RQS loadmasters are responsible for more than half a million dollars’ worth of mission essential equipment. They ensure members of the 71st RQS have gear required for the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Azaria E. Foster)

Photo of an Airman issuing another Airman equipment.

Senior Airman Stephen Cumbee, 71st Rescue Squadron loadmaster, issues equipment to Airman 1st Class John Wheeler, 71st RQS loadmaster, Feb. 5, 2020, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Three 71st RQS loadmasters are responsible for more than half a million dollars’ worth of mission essential equipment. They ensure members of the 71st RQS have gear required for the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Azaria E. Foster)

Photo of an Airman showing another Airman equipment.

Senior Airman Stephen Cumbee, 71st Rescue Squadron loadmaster, shows Airman 1st Class John Wheeler, 71st RQS loadmaster, equipment Feb. 5, 2020, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Three 71st RQS loadmasters are responsible for more than half a million dollars’ worth of mission essential equipment. They ensure members of the 71st RQS have gear required for the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Azaria E. Foster)

Photo of an Airman scanning equipment.

Senior Airman Stephen Cumbee, 71st Rescue Squadron loadmaster, scans equipment Feb. 5, 2020, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Three 71st RQS loadmasters are responsible for more than half a million dollars’ worth of mission essential equipment. They ensure members of the 71st RQS have gear required for the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Azaria E. Foster)

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. --

Boots? Check. Knife? Check. Headsets? Check. … Check. … Check.

But who is responsible for maintaining and issuing the more than a half a million dollars’ worth of mission-critical equipment to ensure that each rescue professional is geared up when time is of the essence?

Three 71st Rescue Squadron loadmasters also function as supply to meet the unique needs of their squadron.

Those Airmen are primarily 71st RQS loadmasters, but are also responsible for maintaining and issuing more than half a million dollars’ worth of mission essential equipment to keep their unit mission ready.

“Having our own supply room is especially vital...since we are an operational flying squadron and can be tasked to leave as quickly as 12 hours after notification,” Staff Sgt. Jamie Richardson-Granger, 71st RQS flight chief. “The base supply doesn’t have the required items we need on hand or in the quantity we need...due to us being on round the clock alert.”

The 71st RQS is made up of loadmasters, pilots, combat systems officers, operations intelligence and squadron aviation resource managers, all of which require mission-essential gear.

“We issue everything from uniform items, such as two-piece flight suits, boots, socks, canteens, Hydro Flasks and gun holsters,” Richardson-Granger said. “We also have bow headsets. They’re lightweight and noise-cancelling so they help with our hearing protection. Most of our specialized equipment that we use come from user interface with items to allow for a more fluid employment of our job tasks.”

The supply room maintains and issues equipment to more than 90 Airmen.

“We always try to maintain equipment for at least the mandated amount of people and 50 percent plus,” Richardson-Granger said. “We could get [additional people] from the Global Response Force or a guard unit could say we need more people to go.”

According to 1st Lt. Allison Fohr, 71st RQS pilot, having a supply room within the unit promotes continuity and efficiency.

“The supply shop is manned by aircrew because they know what the best equipment for our operations is, not by just doing market research, but from hands-on experience,” Fohr said. “It’s nice because we see the face of the supply members every day, they know our needs, and we have a flow of communication. Say we have a loadmaster whose knife broke, they can quickly go get a new one and still fly. It’d be a lot harder to drive down the road and go get something issued from supply.”

Richardson-Granger believes it is not hard balancing a flying schedule while working in the supply room. Being able to inventory items as well as issue them enables the 71st RQS to keep round the clock mobility.

“We need [this equipment] just to do the bare minimum of our jobs,” Fohr said. “Whether it’s pilots with headsets or load masters with knives, we all utilize the supply room to do all aspects of the mission.”