734th AMS EAGLES: A Force of Innovation and Resilience in Guam

  • Published
  • By Theresa Valadez
  • 515th Air Mobility Operations WIng

With limited infrastructure and supplies, residents on a remote Pacific island faced extreme challenges when category 4 typhoon Mawar struck Guam for eight relentless hours, on May 24, 2023. In the face of insurmountable obstacles, the 734th Air Mobility Squadron EAGLES stepped up to provide critical support.

“The most impressive thing that happened after the typhoon was standing up the makeshift terminal in the Freight warehouse right after the storm hit,” said MSgt. Johnny Skyles, 734th AMS.

Within just 34 hours of the typhoon passing, the 734th AMS reopened their port, becoming the first to receive FEMA managers, aid, and recovery equipment. Personnel quickly transformed a hangar into the "General Klein Expeditionary Passenger Terminal," a beacon of hope to facilitate the freedom of movement for military personnel and their families when no other services were available. Three months later, they repeated this feat.

On Sept. 2, 2023, the 734th AMS executed their inaugural Patriot Express mission from the improvised terminal, ensuring the availability of this vital benefit. They repurposed eight shipping containers as office spaces, guaranteeing a predictable, reliable, and affordable means of transportation back to the Contiguous United States for military members, active-duty personnel, retirees, and their families, including pets. The reliability provided by the Patriot Express missions for Joint Forces in Guam is immeasurable.

“The transition was challenging and stressful. I’m just happy we’re in this place. It’s much better than before,” said SSgt. David Nieminien, 734th AMS.

Passengers began their journey in the "Kackle" building, proceeding to the "Hasson" building for processing document checks, luggage, and bag inspections, before transitioning to one of three gates known as the Pierce, Sylvester, and Pheabus buildings. Prior to boarding buses to the aircraft passengers go through customs in the Taber building. The General Klein Expeditionary Passenger Terminal offers a full-service experience, including air-conditioned gates, a lactation facility, and a dedicated space for pets.

The island of Guam faced a formidable challenge, but the 734th AMS recognized the need, devised a solution, and expedited a critical service for joint personnel and their families. They are known for turning problems into opportunities, earning a reputation as pioneers and trailblazers. As the smallest AMC unit in the Indo-Pacific, they continue to set the standard and find solutions when others seek them.

“To say I’m proud off the team would be an understatement,” said 2d Lt. Rodolfo Faccini, 734th AMS. “Day in and day out, these Airmen continue to accomplish the mission regardless of the issues placed before them.”