NAVAL AIR STATION JOINT RESERVE BASE FORT WORTH, Texas --
The 73rd Aerial Port Squadron, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, is a valuable unit who supports joint operations and the 301st Fighter Wing mission—to train and deploy combat-ready Airmen. Whether it’s building baggage or weapons pallets, loading and unloading aircraft, or processing military members for flight, these “Port Dawgs” deliver force to the fight. We feature one Port Dawg who not only delivers military service but also heaping portions of passion.
Tech. Sgt. Sean Hill, 73d APS Special Handling Supervisor, has served as Traditional Reservist for the past 14 years. Prior to enlisting and successfully skilled to that point, he felt as if something was missing.
“In 2007, I was sitting behind a desk [as a banker] and felt like I was just spinning my wheels… going nowhere,” Hill said. “My family has a history of military service across all the branches and at 27 years old, I felt it was my time to put my stamp on that legacy.”
With a history of driving fork lifts and loading and offloading semi-trucks, the 2T2X1 Air Force Specialty Code [or Air Force job responsible for air transportation] seemed to be a good fit for Hill. He enlisted in the Air Force Reserve in 2007 as a member of the 72d APS, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., before joining the 73d APS here in 2009.
“[In my role] I plan, schedule and process eligible passengers and cargo for air movement,” said Hill. “More specifically within the special handling section, I ensure hazardous cargo documentation, packaging, labeling and marking requirements are met and are safe to fly with other cargo and passengers. I also perform joint inspections, drive material handling equipment [MHE] and am the training supervisor for my section.”
As each of these Airmen progress from beginner to expert to supervisor, there is no lack of opportunity in this constant cycle of learning. A challenge, Hill says, a Port Dawg takes head on.
“Being able to perform so many different tasks within one AFSC is what I enjoy the most. I have worked in cargo building pallets, ramp driving MHE, passenger processing passengers, fleet dumping blue juice and special handling processing and handling hazardous materials,” he said. “Even after [my] 14 years, there are two more sections—load planning and air terminal operations center—I have yet to work in. Being a Port Dawg gives me the opportunity to learn something new every day and provides multiple avenues to progress in my military career.”
Job proficiency within each shop is an important element to mission accomplishment. Yet with so many moving parts within the air transportation field, teamwork, communication and their commitment to each other are just as essential.
“’That’s not my job’ cannot be part of your mindset. We have chief master sergeants who will put on personal protective equipment and jump in a forklift to help get the job done,” said Hill. “That’s the mentality of a Port Dawg…being a good wingman no matter what your rank or expertise is.”
Being able to deliver that kind of military support is why Hill said he is ‘extremely happy with the path he took.’ Yet as he served the military, this Paris, Texas native explained how he unexpectedly found another joy in delivering service to others.
“I had a neighbor tell me he was lazy before he was cheap and gave me his smoker because he could go buy smoked meat quicker than he could cook it himself,” Hill remembered. “I’ve always loved to cook and grill out but this gave me an opportunity to try something new with a minimal investment. The very first thing I smoked was a brisket. It came out better than I expected and I was hooked…that was 10 years and six smokers ago.”
Hill began to use his passion on the civilian side where this Rockwall, Texas resident is a Career and Technical Education teacher who also coaches the district’s Varsity BBQ Team, the 205 Pitmasters.
“After 10 years coaching on the gridiron, I made the jump to the grill iron. I was able to start Rockwall ISD’s BBQ Club in 2020 and coached our first team all the way to the Texas State Championships,” he said. “Brisket is king in Texas and we placed 9th out of approx. 70 teams. We also finished 11th in ribs and 19th in chicken [there]. Last year’s success drove interest and this year we have tripled the number of students joining our club. I will be coaching at least two teams this year with the possibility of a third.”
The skills he is teaching his students was being perfected four years ago when Hill and a couple of his best friends and smoking buddies became the Texas Moonswiners.
I asked them if they wanted to do a BBQ competition with me. Our team had to have a name and that’s the name we decided on,” said Hill. “All of us love the great state of Texas and most of our cooks were always done overnight…low and slow by moon light. So it just seemed fitting.”
The Texas Moonswiners were born. Besides sharing knowledge and passion with high school students, they are also making an impact within the local north Texas community.
“This weekend, we are partnering with the Travis Manion Foundation [which empowers veterans and families of fallen heroes to develop character in future generations] to provide BBQ for the participants and volunteers after the 9/11 Memorial Run, September 25, 2021 in Arlington, Texas,” Hill said. “In the past, we have cooked to support our local fire department, the Trooper Jeffrey Don Nichols Scholarship fund, local high school scholarships and to raise donations for the 73d APS Booster Club.”
In the Air Force Reserve, the civilian and military worlds are both able to benefit from the experience Reserve Citizen Airmen bring. Whether it’s for the military or the community, Hill’s experience has taught him invaluable life lessons.
“BBQ has helped me value the process more than the results. Every cook is different but to get great results, every time, the process has to be the same,” Hill concluded. “I apply this same thought process while on annual tour , on orders or participating in a drill weekend. Trust and follow the process and the result will be a success.”
**No federal endorsement implied**