From the Frontlines: Master Sgt. Gloria Torres

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nick Wilson
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Faced with challenges of an ever-changing mission, she managed passenger travel and cargo movement operations with a watchful eye. Without her leadership, service members and cargo wouldn't have reached their intended destination.

Master Sgt. Gloria Torres, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron personal property section chief, a vital asset while deployed six months to Southwest Asia. She returned to Whiteman in February.

"My mission was to redeploy service members and support aircraft cargo movement," Torres said. "I ensured service members returned to their home station after deployments and during emergency leave circumstances."

She handled more than 700 emergency leave situations, ensuring service members got home when there was a death or extenuating circumstance in the family.

"I remember dealing with a Marine who was downrange fighting when he received word his father passed away," said Torres. "While he was crying in the terminal, I tried to console him as quickly as possible, so I could get him home and deal with other members who were dealing with similar circumstances. It was definitely a challenge and something I think made my Airmen and me stronger."

Torres and her Airmen also rendered honors to fallen comrades stationed at her base before the bodies were sent back to the U.S., which was an eye-opening experience.

"My Airmen realized that this war is real life, and they are not here just to pack boxes," Torres said. "Our brothers and sisters in arms are actually dying out there, and everything we do is in support of that war effort."

Torres added that she remembers working with a team of Explosive Ordnance Disposal members who had a teammate killed in action.

"We still had to ship his weapon to the home station," she said. "We had a couple of men crying because when they opened the weapon case to verify the serial number, the weapon was busted up into pieces."

While dealing with this difficult facet of the redeployment mission, Torres also balanced managing both the passenger travel and cargo movement sections simultaneously. This included ensuring mission essential items were received in a timely manner.

"Our transit time for Fed Ex was five to seven days, and sometimes that wasn't acceptable because we had a down aircraft that maintainers needed parts for immediately," Torres said. "Trying to track down these parts and get them to maintainers in a timely manner to keep aircraft flying was definitely a challenge."

Additionally, Torres' section was in charge of removing under-used equipment and office items all over base. Her unit saved the Air Force $2 million by transferring the equipment to another base in Southwest Asia where it could be utilized fully.

Though Torres spent many hours getting the mission done, she still found time to participate in humanitarian assistance projects within the base community.

One of her humanitarian assistance projects was helping out at a school for handicapped children called Nadjeshda. While helping out at the school, Torres met Karla Maria, the lady that started the school.

"Karla Maria shared her 33-year struggle of how she fought to keep her school open for the children," Torres said. "In Southwest Asia, handicap children and mothers are disowned because of their disability. [Karla] story not only touched my heart and made me want to do more, it also made me thankful for the life I have."

While she experienced many trials and tribulations during her time in Southwest Asia, Torres said overcoming those challenges made her a stronger person.

"This deployment afforded Torres the opportunity to gain invaluable experiences," said Brian McCandless, 509th LRS traffic management officer. "As the Traffic Manager she was responsible for the entire cargo operation along with passenger movement processing more than 6.8 million pounds of cargo and 10.5 thousand joint force passengers across the AOR. The knowledge gained has enhanced her ability to perform as a SNCO in this busy career field."