Niagara’s underdawgs, nothing stops us

  • Published

  • By Capt. Lucas Morrow

  • 30th Aerial Port Squadron


The 30th Aerial Port Squadron of Niagara’s 914th Air Refueling Wing is gearing up to compete in this year’s Port Dawg Challenge, a demanding team-based event hosted by the 94th Airlift Wing at Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia. The annual challenge is designed to have aerial port squadrons across the world bring their best to measure their skills through rigorous physical and mental challenges.

Aerial porters are some of the most capable human beings I have ever seen. Nothing stops us.

Aerial porters are graded on everything from written examinations, engine running aircraft loading operations, to tests of physical fitness. Seasoned aerial porter Master Sgt. Edward McDonald II is leading 30 APS’s team this year. He says this level of measuring knowledge and ability helps build and maintain a porter’s grit and resilience needed for real-world military operations.

“Being able to compete against each other in a healthy competition builds team cohesion and confidence in ourselves, said McDonald. “It also allows our experts to set the expectations of where we need to be and where we need to go as a career field. The 2T2 [aerial port] world is small, and we will most defiantly work with these units again, so building that working relationship is key.”

By small career field, almost half of the Air Force’s deployed aerial porters are from the reserve component. So building skills also means building lasting relationships. McDonald’s squad of six is comprised of all skill levels from apprentices to managers. Winning is the aim but McDonald’s ultimate strategy is to focus on readiness for 30 APS’s first-term airmen.

“Our newest generation of airmen haven’t had contingency operations experiences that our more senior enlisted airmen have,” said McDonald. “This experience of traveling to a new environment and having to adapt and perform under pressure adds that high tempo level experience that these airmen need.”

A junior team means it will be tougher for Niagara to bring home the blue ribbon but McDonald says that doesn’t deter his team one bit. 

“We have this adapt and overcome mind set,” said McDonald. “Aerial porters are some of the most capable human beings I have ever seen. Nothing stops us. We can put anything on any aircraft, anywhere in the world. We work extremely hard in all types of hostile environments, and no matter the hiccups–aerial porters can figure it out and make it look easy.”

“It’s a good career and life lesson to be adaptable and not shut down at the first road bump we face,” said McDonald. “If we can bring that mind set back to Niagara, we will be an unstoppable force.”

Originally published at

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