Loadmasters: Mentorship starts with each other

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Wayne Capps
  • 315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As the C-17 Globemaster III offloads cargo in Central America, the loadmasters in the rear of the aircraft are under the watchful eye of the squadron’s chief loadmaster.

The real-world mission is also a training opportunity, and for these loadmasters mentorship is key in successfully achieving their mission.

According to Senior Master Sgt. Rick Higuera, the chief loadmaster for the 701st Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, mentorship is key to success for everyone.

“On this mission, we have an experienced loadmaster, a mid-level loadmaster and a very junior loadmaster, so you take the time to mentor the younger Airmen when you can,” he said. “This is a continuous learning career field. It is not uncommon for a very senior loadmaster to see a load that they have never seen before. I think that is why it is so important for us to work as a team, because different experience levels look at problems very differently.”

Staff Sgt. Adam Allen, a loadmaster from the 701 AS, said mentorship from experienced loadmasters is crucial for mission success.

“You get the basics from training but you have to have those people above you and around you to help navigate the mission at hand,” he said.

Allen said he credits the mentorship he received in his squadron for recently being selected to fly F-16s with the Indiana National Guard. 

“My dad flew the F-16 and F-4’s, and his dad flew the RF-4 in Vietnam,” he said.  “So many individuals in my squadron have helped me along the way to get me here. They helped me with everything from what classes to take in college to walking me through my pilot application process.”

According to Senior Airman Nic Misseldine, a young loadmaster of five months with the 701 AS, mentorship is a cycle and a driving force to success.

“Mentorship does not stop with the senior crewmembers on board the aircraft,” he said. “I want to grow into my role as a loadmaster and be the best mentor I can be one day. It is a cycle. You see the younger guys come in and the older ones leave and retire. Mentorship is what drives us being loadmasters. Without good mentorship you won’t succeed, you won’t be safe

Higuera summed it by saying mentorship is all about teamwork.

“Whether it is back in the squadron or on the jet, we are a team… the pilots, the loadmasters and our crew chiefs,” he said.  “Without this team, that plane would not be able to function and mentoring means growing our team.”

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