156th "Port Dawgs"

  • Published
  • By Air Force Capt. Matt Murphy, 156th Wing
  • 156th Wing

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Despite the mission, despite the task or despite the natural disaster/emergency – one constant remains on the concrete plateau of Muniz Air National Guard Base, the “Port Dawgs.”

Within the 156th Aerial Support Squadron lays the unsung warriors of the tarmac. The Aerial Port Team members are part of the airfield ground support operations who plan and organize air transportation activities to include the movement of cargo, passengers, vehicles, food, medical supplies and many other items where the Air Force needs them in a timely fashion.

“To have the ability to immediately open an airfield during emergencies, to handle the logistics and movement of everything arriving by air drop and getting it to the right people at the right time is my life’s work,” said Harry Capo, CMSgt, USAF and 156AW Air Transportation Manager. “We are essentially the primary contingency response force. We are now able to grow our group into its full-time mission capacity. This will allow the Puerto Rico Air National Guard to become the premiere airport operations group in the Air Force.”

Chief Capo brings over 20 years of experience with his excitement as he contemplates what is next for the PRANG and the 156th. The Wing accomplished many missions with their C-130 aircraft, but there is much more to the Air National Guard than aircraft. Civil Engineering, Logistics, Medical, Security Forces are among the many careers essential and important to any mission.

“In the history of our unit, we have supported emergencies operations for Hurricanes Katrina, Irma, and Maria,” said Col. Raymond Figueroa, 156th Wing Commander. “We’ve also supported combat missions around the World since 1999 and in the last 6 years alone, completed more than 1,200 missions, and processed more than 12 million pounds of cargo through the Muniz airfield. With our new permanent mission, we are ready to show that contingency response is our true calling. The PRANG is great at it!”

The 156AW Air Transportation Airmen, better known as “Port Dawgs” are regularly tasked with directing all types of airfield activities including unloading/loading aircrafts, preparing supplies airdrops, handling aircraft, material handling equipment, conducting cargo inspection and aircraft weight and balance. They also establish procedures for passengers and troops movement. Regardless of their primary skillset, all Airmen in the group train to perform these duties in austere conditions in support of any contingency event.

“Our motto is, ‘These things we do – So others may prevail.’ It is what we do, it is how we must operate for the good of our citizens,” said Capo. “The Air Force gave us this long term mission, we now come together for the good of our citizens and accept this challenge. We've already deployed our Airmen to middle east. We will grow the CRG mission and we will work to be victorious.”