103rd Airmen support logistics in Washington, D.C.

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Steven Tucker
  • 103rd Airlift Wing

An unprecedented domestic operations response calls for unprecedented logistics support, and a team of three Airmen from the 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron helped ensure the more than 26,000 Guardsmen who supported the 59th Presidential Inauguration accomplished their mission.

Tech. Sgt. Luis Velazquez, 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of outbound cargo, supported air terminal operations at Joint Base Andrews and Tech. Sgt. Ryan Keaveney and Staff Sgt. Herb Coggeshall, 103rd Logistics Readiness Squadron ground transportation specialists, helped transport troops and supplies from Andrews to the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, all in support of the 89th Airlift Wing and D.C. Air National Guard’s 113th Wing.

Joint Base Andrews, located in Prince George’s County, Md., serves as a military air transportation hub for the Washington, D.C. area and is home to Air Force One.

Keaveney helped facilitate the increased National Guard mission at this year’s inauguration in real-time as conditions in the city evolved.

“I had gotten there on January 4, and after the incident at the Capitol, our mission changed shape,” said Keaveney. “Between myself and a few other NCOs, we basically helped stand up a ground transportation center at Andrews just for this mission. We had to quickly adapt and make decisions on the fly to effectively get the mission done.”

Keaveney’s original mission was to provide logistics support to a smaller contingent of National Guard troops already tasked to support the inauguration prior to the January 6 attack at the Capitol. The National Guard has an extensive history assisting with crowd management, traffic control, emergency response services, communication, and ceremonial duties at presidential inaugurations.

Adaptability was key as troops from the 54 states and territories began arriving at the base, said Keaveney.

“There was one day at the height of it that we had 48 flights come in during day shift--from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.--and another 48 flights come in during night shift, so we had a total of 96 flights over a span of 24 hours at one point,” said Keaveney.

From there, Keaveney’s team would ensure the troops and their equipment got to where they were needed.

“I was working out of Andrews basically as a dispatcher,” said Keaveney. “Based on the taskings we received, I would then send out the appropriate logistics personnel and vehicles to get the mission done.”

This support required 24-hour operations with many different types of vehicles used depending on the troops and supplies needing transport.

“I was mainly driving tractor-trailers, buses, and box trucks to transport people and cargo from Andrews to wherever they needed to go in the Washington, D.C. area,” said Coggeshall. “It was a good opportunity to put everything we’ve been taught into practice for a large operation.”

Velazquez played an important role helping the air terminal at Andrews process departing Guardsmen, as well as those arriving for the enduring security support mission. These tasks include checking military identification and orders, and conducting TSA-standard passenger and baggage screening prior to boarding.

“My role was to assist the active duty unit in processing the passenger manifest,” said Velazquez. “So for each flight, we would have to process all the passenger information in a timely and efficient manner because the next plane would be ready to go less than two hours later.”

Velazquez, who supported an average of 17 to 25 departing flights per day, was also able to put his HAZMAT qualifications to use, making sure hazardous cargo, such as ammunition, was transported properly according to safety protocol.

Constant communication between organizations involved helped ensure efficient operations, said Velazquez.

“Everyone was upfront with any changes or issues that came up and didn’t hesitate to make a call or send a message in a group chat when necessary, so that really helped,” said Velazquez.

Keaveney also helped facilitate these communication efforts in his role as a dispatcher at Andrews and in his later tasking at the D.C. Armory Joint Operations Center.

“Leadership would come to us in the transportation cell and tell us what they needed, and we would relay that information to Andrews so they could get the mission done,” said Keaveney.

The team from the 103rd expressed pride in helping facilitate a historic National Guard response in the nation’s capital.

“It was almost like a once in a lifetime experience,” said Keaveney. “You’re constantly going at work, but once you’re off shift and decompress, you realize you’re in the midst of history.”

“I’m glad the Connecticut National Guard answered the call,” said Velazquez. “I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of history and represent Connecticut the best way possible.”