“It never stops; if I’m up, I’m working,” said Logistics Specialist 1st Class Jason Prushard.
Prushard is a member of the small team that makes up the Air Transfer Office aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
ATO’s primary responsibility is to coordinate personnel and cargo transfers on and off the ship, via C2-A cargo aircraft flown by the Rawhides of Fleet Logistics Squadron 40, known as Carrier On-board Delivery (COD) and helicopters, or ‘helos.’
“We coordinate helo squadrons for [medical evacuations], and maintain the trackers,” said Prushard.“The database tells us who is approved to fly, who’s ready to go and who we are expecting to leave so we can coordinate that.”
Tracking passenger and cargo transfers on and off the ship is one of the most important responsibilities of the ATO because of the high traffic nature of life aboard TR.
“The biggest thing is, there are 5,000 people or so on the ship and we have a lot of people coming and going every day. It would be chaos if there wasn’t somebody tracking it,” said Lt. Christopher Iole, air transfer officer for TR. “We are that logistics hub, making sure we know exactly which personnel are off the boat and on the boat, and when they are going to transfer, so we can keep an accurate record.”
Mail, cargo and personnel arrive by COD, and it’s up to the Sailors at the ATO to make sure aircraft are unloaded quickly, so it doesn’t interfere with the rest of flight operations.
“People end up looking for parts. They start looking for luggage. Supply sends a team up to assist in getting the cargo over to the elevator and make sure that everything ordered is here,” said Prushard.“If we don’t do our job correctly, then the COD doesn’t launch in time and it affects the rest of the air plan for the rest of the day and it’s a domino effect. We’ve got to make sure we do our job correctly, and we get the COD out of here on time.”
ATO team members also try to make travel a pleasant experience for passengers, especially those service members travelling on emergency leave.
“The best part about this job to me is helping out the [emergency] leave people who need to get off the boat,” said Prushard. “[We’re] just trying to help them out, try to make them smile once before they leave out of the office and off the ship. If I can get them to giggle a little bit, then at least for a second or two they weren’t upset or down, and I think it helps.”
For Prushard, the variety of situations he faces every day is the reason he enjoys working at the ATO.
“Every day is different. One day you’re helping with [emergency leave], and then the next you’re doing supply work loading cargo, so it’s a really versatile job, and you have to be willing to do all of it,” said Prushard.
Theodore Roosevelt is the flagship of the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group (TRCSG), which is composed of Carrier Strike Group 12, Carrier Air Wing 1, Destroyer Squadron 2 staff, the guided-missile cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60) and the guided-missile destroyers USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81), USS Farragut (DDG 90) and USS Forrest Sherman (DDG 98).
Roosevelt is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations supporting Operation Inherent Resolve, strike operations in Iraq and Syria as directed, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the region.
By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class D’Artanyan Ratley, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs
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