C-130 mission reaches beyond Air Force

  • Published
  • By Capt. Ethan Bryant
  • 96th Airlift Squadron
So there I was, checking in to Naval Air Station Corpus Christi to report for my next stage of pilot training, where most C-130 pilots-to-be were sent for the advanced multi-engine course. I was surprised when a Navy captain in his dress whites came up to me holding a dollar bill saying "Hey, Ensign, can you point me to the gee-dunk?" I popped up and tried to stammer out a confused response.
Thankfully a real Navy ensign stepped in and saved me. "Sir, just head up to the second deck and take a left down the passageway past the scuttlebutt and it's on the port side." The captain went on his way so that must have meant something to him, although it left me even more confused. Come to find out that in the Navy the second "deck" was the second level of a building, a hallway was a "passageway" and a "scuttlebutt" was a drinking fountain. Oh yeah, and the mysterious "gee-dunk" turned out to be a vending machine.
Needless to say it was a good wake-up call to the new environment I'd be training in. We flew with Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, Air Force, and even some Army pilots, in addition to some foreign students that were usually Italian Navy. Suffice to say that it was drastically different than the strictly USAF experience of my previous six months at Laughlin AFB, but it turned out to be great preparation for life in a C-130 Squadron, where the essence of our existence is to support our joint partners with tactical airlift. In fact, C-130s have been doing that for half a century, well before "jointness" was a defined doctrine within the military.
Just in the last year the Airlift Squadron has flown missions with the Navy SEALs and Seabees, Army Rangers and Special Forces, Marine Recon, and even the FBI, in addition to many Air Force agencies. In May we are deploying two aircraft to Canada for Maple Flag, which is a complex exercise working not only with different branches of the US military but with that of many foreign countries.

Each of those organizations have their own "gee-dunks" that could be barriers to communication and operating well together. Identifying and working through those issues with our joint partners to complete the mission should be engrained in every tactical airlifter, but it doesn't happen automatically. We all can use the occasional reminder that effective communication is an active process and one that is just as essential in our daily work with each other as it is on challenging inter-service missions.