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NEWS | Sept. 10, 2013

Vehicle operations shifts into gear

By Airman 1st Class Victoria H. Taylor 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

When senior military leaders and foreign dignitaries pass through the gates of Langley Air Force Base, one squadron acts as the backbone of the operation, ensuring guests' visits run smoothly.

In addition to supporting distinguished visits, the 633rd Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operations section lays the groundwork for Langley's mission by managing all aspects of ground transportation to include crane operations and driving 18-wheelers.

With vehicles ranging from sedans to buses and utility trucks to tractor trailers, 633rd LRS vehicle operators spend day and night preparing to ensure transportation of personnel and materiel is done in a prompt, professional manner.

"We are the movers and shakers of Langley," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher McDaniel, 633rd LRS vehicle operations control center noncommissioned officer in charge. "Without us, things don't move, plain and simple."

Vehicle operations is comprised of more than 60 Airmen, licensed and capable of driving various material-handling vehicles. When they are not operating the equipment, the team is servicing and cleaning the vehicles. They also assign and provide instructions to military motor operators on base.

"We have more than 100 pieces of vehicle equipment, which makes for a very active workforce," said McDaniel. "If I had to explain our every detail, we are like Enterprise Rent-a-Car, [United Parcel Service] and Greyhound all wrapped into one. Our mission is to get everything from point A to point B. Whether it's deployments, cargo loading or materiel filled pallets, we are the transportation."

In addition to operating equipment and transporting cargo, the 633rd LRS also assisit with the high number of distinguished guests that visit the base. Vehicle operators are also responsible for ensuring safe travel between locations while staying on schedule, ensuring that each guest arrives on time during their tightly-packed itineraries.

"DV visits are one of the biggest focal points of our schedule," McDaniel added. "Air Combat Command Headquarters brings in a lot of visitors, so we must constantly show professionalism and timeliness to our customers."

While the 633rd LRS vehicle operators move many passengers around Joint Base Langley-Eustis, in addition to shuttling visitors across the installation, the vehicle operators lend government vehicles to tenant units around the base. McDaniel said depending on what type of job the unit has to carry out, they sometimes require buses, vans, forklifts or more to complete the task.

"We are the licensing officials on base," said McDaniel. "Service members who need a [government-owned vehicle], forklift or any other vehicle license go through us to obtain it."

While supporting base operations is mission essential, vehicle operators must also maintain expeditionary deployment readiness at all times. Many operators see a completely different side of their career field when downrange.

"Deployments are different than our day-to-day actions as base support," said Senior Airman Christina Robinson, a 633rd LRS vehicle operator. "Our mission is mainly line-haul, which is convoy duty. We are continually moving any type war items that are needed: ammunition, food and supplies."

Many military vehicle operators have received Silver Stars and other decorations for their service in combat environments.

"We were once considered the fourth most dangerous job in the military because we are continuously moving," said McDaniel. "Dodging improvised explosive devices during a run to bring crucial items to different forward operating bases... it's a lot different that driving a bus route."

According to both McDaniel and Robinson, the high point of the job involves deploying. Having to transit through combat zones rife with threats puts the operation in perspective.

"Once I started doing convoys downrange, it really let me see the bigger picture, and where vehicle operators fit into the entire mission," McDaniel said.

Whether downrange or in-house, the 633rd LRS vehicle operation directly affects all aspects of the mission. From ensuring on-time delivery of parts and pallets or swiftly arriving to provide transportation for a guest on a base tour, vehicle operators take great pride in their duty.