509th Logistics Readiness Squadron wins annual Air Force Ground Transportation Rodeo

The 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron Ground Transportation Rodeo team stand for a group photo.

The 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron ground transportation rodeo team holds the travelling trophy after winning the annual Ground Transportation Rodeo at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Aug. 5, 2021. The rodeo tested ground transportation Airmen from across the Air Force on a variety of skills including a written test, reversing forklifts on courses, backing a tractor trailer into a narrow space and pushing a large bus. Due to scheduling conflicts, the LRS teammates shared in childcare duties. (Courtesy Photo)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

The 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron won the annual Ground Transportation Rodeo competition at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, Aug. 5.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Derek Kitis, Senior Airman Mark Martinez, Airman 1st Class Rebecca Martinez and Airman 1st Class Austin Ahumada represented the 509th LRS and competed against 20 other bases from across the Air Force.

“Winning the Ground Transportation Rodeo is just a small testament to how well this team operates,” said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Bates, the 509th LRS superintendent. “Our Ground Transportation team provides the best mission movement for people, supplies, munitions, and oversized equipment wherever the mission is required. There is no doubt that without their efforts, Team Whiteman’s day-to-day operations would be severely degraded. We are truly proud of their efforts and appreciate how they bring top-notch mission support anytime, anywhere!”

The annual ground transportation rodeo is a competition hosted by the 368th Training Squadron at Fort Leonard Wood. The competition pits teams of ground transportation Airmen against each other to perform a variety of vehicle related activities in the most timely, precise and effective manner.

Fort Leonard Wood also hosts the schoolhouse for Ground Transportation Airmen.

The competition consisted of five different activities that tested the Airmen’s skills and knowledge. The teams were graded based on their timed performance on a written test, backing a tractor trailer into a narrow space, backing two types of forklifts through a course, and a team event pushing a 28,000-pound bus and securing a vehicle onto a trailer.

“I believe the most important part was the cohesion and strength we created though the challenges that were put in front of us during the rodeo,” said Kitis, who led the team during the rodeo. “I cannot put into words the excitement that was shared between us all when we were announced as the winners of the rodeo.”

Whiteman’s LRS team also faced a number of challenges outside of the graded criteria. Due to manning at home station and childcare issues for one of the competitors some members almost didn’t make it to the competition. Together, the crew was able to work together in an unconventional way: The Martinez family was unable to find a babysitter for their child so the team rotated between competing and providing childcare together.

“There is always going to be a strong urge for competition between ground transporters but at the end of the day we are all family,” Kitis said. “And if/when the time comes we will move the Air Force with a quickness that you’ve never seen before.”