SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – COVID-19 has promoted most of the planet to change the way things are done, but for Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, technical training for Airmen arriving from basic military training doesn’t stop.
With that being said, certain protective and precautionary measures have been put in place for the arrival of new Airmen as well as students from sister services, and the departure of those who have completed their training here. Instead of being bussed in from Lackland AFB, Texas to Sheppard AFB, Airmen are now being flown in to avoid contamination on the journey.
With this change, a need arose for a passenger terminal for the incoming and outgoing Airmen.
Passenger terminal operations facilitate the embarkation and debarkation of passengers from the aircraft.
“The terminal was set up in this contingency environment to ensure the health and safety of our Airmen in Training,” said Lt. Col. Lauren Guibert, 82nd Logistics Readiness Squadron commander. “Up until last month, we never received passengers through military contracted airlift here at Sheppard. Our tech training graduates typically depart via commercial air out of the Wichita Falls airport next door.”
The terminal was set up in a hangar belonging to the 982nd Maintenance Squadron.
“It’s proximity to the ramp is the main reason we chose this space since that’s the ramp where the aircraft transporting Airmen from BMT are parked after they land,” Guibert said. “It was a collaborative team effort with their leadership to designate space for the terminal, since they usually use the only hangar for repair or storage.”
Multiple agencies on Sheppard AFB – 82nd LRS, 982nd MXS, 82nd Mission Support Group, 82nd Force Support Squadron, 82nd Civil Engineering Squadron, 82nd Contracting Squadron and the Sheppard NCO Academy – contributed to getting the terminal set up in a fast pace, ensuring no matter what the conditions outside, the base can continue receiving and processing passengers.
“It’s a big step leaning forward in being able to have a small air terminal operating,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jason Ramon, PAX Terminal non-commissioned officer in charge. “The vision is to be able to keep the Airman in a sterile staging area.”
Guibert said while the terminal is serving a valuable function to the technical training mission, it's likely a temporary solution in response to the global pandemic.
“I think we are all looking forward to the day when the COVID-19 threat subsides and we can go back to normal operations,” she said. “I don’t anticipate the terminal remaining open after the pandemic."