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Staff Sgt. Matthew Rothrock and Senior Airman Gerald Dinio (right) flip a tire during the endurance event at the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021. The tire the pair from Spangdahlem Air Base had to move was filled with water.
Staff Sgt. Matthew Rothrock and Senior Airman Gerald Dinio (right) flip a tire during the endurance event at the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021. The tire the pair from Spangdahlem Air Base had to move was filled with water. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Airman 1st Class Ryan Joy heaved the Tunner 60K aircraft cargo loader around the final curve of a tight figure eight on the ramp at Ramstein Air Base.

Joy is used to driving the Tunner, although “not as pedal-to-the-metal” as he was Friday, he said as he took part in the 721st Aerial Port Services Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo.

The rodeo is designed to help airmen learn and master skills they don’t use in their day-to-day work to help the Air Force achieve its mission statement: “To fly, fight, and win … airpower anytime, anywhere.”

“Not some time in some places; it is anytime, anywhere,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. said during an all-hands meeting when he visited Ramstein earlier this month. “Every one of our specialties contributes to that.”

Yards from where Joy had pushed the Tunner close to its maximum speed of 23 mph, airmen were reconfiguring a C-130H before another of the eight teams of five taking part in the rodeo loaded a Humvee and a pallet onto the aircraft within strict time constraints.

Airman 1st Class Ryan Joy drives a Tunner 60K aircraft cargo loader during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021.
Airman 1st Class Ryan Joy drives a Tunner 60K aircraft cargo loader during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)
Airman 1st Class Ryan Joy drives a Tunner 60K aircraft cargo loader around a course at Ramstein Air Base on July 23, during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo. Joy, a ramp services agent with the 721st APS, has been driving loaders for two years, but "not as pedal-to-the-metal" as during the rodeo, he said.
Airman 1st Class Ryan Joy drives a Tunner 60K aircraft cargo loader around a course at Ramstein Air Base on July 23, during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo. Joy, a ramp services agent with the 721st APS, has been driving loaders for two years, but "not as pedal-to-the-metal" as during the rodeo, he said. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)
A judge in the 721st Aerial Port Squadron's Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base on July 23, 2021, tells Airman 1st Class Ryan Joy to keep driving during an exercise in which competitors drive a Tunner 60K aircraft cargo loader through a course with figure eights and coned-off sharp turns and straightaways.
A judge in the 721st Aerial Port Squadron's Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base on July 23, 2021, tells Airman 1st Class Ryan Joy to keep driving during an exercise in which competitors drive a Tunner 60K aircraft cargo loader through a course with figure eights and coned-off sharp turns and straightaways. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)
The Raven's Fury team, part of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron out of Spangdahlem Air Base, does the tire flip event during the endurance exercise of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021. The tire on the left was filled with water to add to the difficulty.
The Raven's Fury team, part of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron out of Spangdahlem Air Base, does the tire flip event during the endurance exercise of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021. The tire on the left was filled with water to add to the difficulty. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)
Airman 1st Class Ryan Joy, second from left, and his Expendables teammates A1C Jackson Foster, center, and Senior Airman Jordan Taft, right, watch a video of Joy driving a Tunner 60K aircraft cargo loader in the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capability Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021.
Airman 1st Class Ryan Joy, second from left, and his Expendables teammates A1C Jackson Foster, center, and Senior Airman Jordan Taft, right, watch a video of Joy driving a Tunner 60K aircraft cargo loader in the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capability Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)

“In the real world, the engines would be running and the props would be on while we’re trying to load the aircraft because we need to be able to get planes on the ground and off the ground as fast as possible,” said Tech Sgt. Brandon Mabee, part of the only team out of Spangdahlem Air Base. “This is a pretty critical skill for our field because of all the austere locations we head to. Not having to shut down the engines and do a restart saves a lot of time.”

But speed cannot overshadow safety, he said. “Although we try to be quick, we also have to be very safe — and that’s the point of this exercise in the rodeo.”

After the C-130 exercise, Mabee and his teammates crossed the ramp and kicked off an endurance exercise behind the Jawbone Flight Kitchen, with a visual memory test followed by 75 burpees. After that, they carried coolers filled with water around 30 yards, pushed a piece of machinery, flipped tires (one of which had water inside it to add to the difficulty), carried a team member on a stretcher, moved heavy chains from one cart to another about 25 yards away, and prepared a pallet.

Airmen unchain a Humvee before offloading it from a C-130H as they reconfigure the aircraft for the next team in the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021. Teams of airmen had to load the aircraft safely within 20 minutes in a simulated engine running exercise.
Airmen unchain a Humvee before offloading it from a C-130H as they reconfigure the aircraft for the next team in the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021. Teams of airmen had to load the aircraft safely within 20 minutes in a simulated engine running exercise. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)
The Raven's Fury team out of Spangdahlem Air Base does 75 burpees at the start of the endurance event of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron's Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021.
The Raven's Fury team out of Spangdahlem Air Base does 75 burpees at the start of the endurance event of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron's Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)
Capt. Trevor Chasteen, left, Senior Airman Gerald Dinio, center, and Airman 1st Class Mitchell Lagrange load chains onto a cart after carrying them around 30 feet during the endurance event of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 23, 2021.
Capt. Trevor Chasteen, left, Senior Airman Gerald Dinio, center, and Airman 1st Class Mitchell Lagrange load chains onto a cart after carrying them around 30 feet during the endurance event of the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, July 23, 2021. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)
Senior Airman Gerald Dinio, left, and Airman 1st Class Matthew Lagrange of the 726th Air Maintenance Squadron out of Spangdahlem Air Base, lift chains onto a cart during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base on July 23, 2021.
Senior Airman Gerald Dinio, left, and Airman 1st Class Matthew Lagrange of the 726th Air Maintenance Squadron out of Spangdahlem Air Base, lift chains onto a cart during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base on July 23, 2021. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)

Every exercise was a race against the clock and a way to learn skills they might not be called on to use every day.

In the cargo grid area, Team PDLC — for Port Dawgs Learning Center — took weight and length measurements to determine the center of balance of a vehicle that was to be hypothetically loaded onto an aircraft. Port Dawgs is the nickname of the 721st APS.

“It’s a big deal to make sure center of balance calculations are done correctly,” said Tech Sgt. Edward Feilen, who was judging the exercise. “The information is used in load planning because the aircraft needs to be balanced correctly to make sure it doesn’t crash.”

A Humvee is offloaded from a C-130H at Ramstein Air Base in Germany during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo, July 23, 2021.
A Humvee is offloaded from a C-130H at Ramstein Air Base in Germany during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo, July 23, 2021. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)
The Raven's Fury team from Spangdahlem Air Base holds webbing over a pallet during the endurance event at the 721st Aerial Port Squadron's Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base on July 23, 2021. The team, part of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron, lost time in the final test in the endurance event after they put the webbing on wrong.
The Raven's Fury team from Spangdahlem Air Base holds webbing over a pallet during the endurance event at the 721st Aerial Port Squadron's Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base on July 23, 2021. The team, part of the 726th Air Mobility Squadron, lost time in the final test in the endurance event after they put the webbing on wrong. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)
Staff Sgt. Austin Tembrock, captain of Team PDLC, short for Port Dawgs Learning Center, checks a piece of cargo in the pallet building event during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo. The competition simulates situations airmen might encounter in the real world in order to improve and expand their skillsets.
Staff Sgt. Austin Tembrock, captain of Team PDLC, short for Port Dawgs Learning Center, checks a piece of cargo in the pallet building event during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo. The competition simulates situations airmen might encounter in the real world in order to improve and expand their skillsets. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)
Members of Team PDLC take measurements to calculate the center of balance of a vehicle during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021.
Members of Team PDLC take measurements to calculate the center of balance of a vehicle during the 721st Aerial Port Squadron Multi-Capable Airmen Rodeo at Ramstein Air Base, July 23, 2021. (Karin Zeitvogel/Stars and Stripes)

Other team members built a pallet nearby, ensuring the transportation control number and weight matched what was on a manifest, before securing the items that were supposed to be shipped onto a pallet, and covering them with a net.

“This is something they would do on a daily basis if they’re in the cargo section,” Feilen said.  “If they’re in the ramp section, the guys who load the planes, they should know how to do it as well. Everyone should know everyone else’s jobs, at least a little bit, so you can make sure everyone’s doing it correctly” — which is what the rodeo is trying to achieve.

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