Kentucky Airman named top aerial porter in the Air National Guard

Staff Sgt. Kaleb Wentworth, an aerial port specialist with the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, chains a Kentucky Army National Guard helicopter to the floor of an aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on January 27, 2017.  Wentworth was selected from among more than 1700 aerial porters as the top transportation journeyman in the Air National Guard for 2016.

Staff Sgt. Kaleb Wentworth, an aerial port specialist with the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, chains a Kentucky Army National Guard helicopter to the floor of an aircraft at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on January 27, 2017. Wentworth was selected from among more than 1700 aerial porters as the top transportation journeyman in the Air National Guard for 2016. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Phil Speck)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Staff Sgt. Kaleb Wentworth, an aerial porter with the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, has been recognizing as the top Air Transportation Journeyman in the Air National Guard.

Wentworth, who received the Chief Master Sgt. Tommy Downs Award for Excellence in Aerial Port Operations for 2016, was selected from more than 1,700 Aerial Porters across the country.

Wentworth’s supervisor, Senior Master Sgt. Larry Burba, said the Airman is a highly motivated troop with a great attitude who is always first to volunteer for mission taskings.

“Kaleb always has a smile on his face, and is a great role model for the younger troops, because he constantly has a positive attitude with everything he does,” said Burba, superintendent of the 123rd LRS. “At all times, he is leading and mentoring the younger Airmen, and is excited to come to the Port and work every day”

Wentworth has supported numerous contingencies and deployments. During the award period, for example, he led a joint inspection team in the Virgin Islands to support 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade operations, moving 35 short tons of equipment and 60 passengers. He also worked as the load-team chief for multiple home-station airlifts consisting of more than 155 short tons of cargo on various airframes including the C-5, C-17, KC-10 and C-130.

Wentworth additionally was part of the elite Kentucky Joint Service Operation, during which he helped eradicate 513,740 marijuana plants, preventing the use and sale of over $1.2 billion of illegal narcotics in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

In Europe, he coordinated the movement of 1,551 passengers, 491 short tons of cargo and 67 successful sortie operations as part of Sabre Junction, a training exercise that included 5,000 participants from 18 allied partner nations.

Wentworth also is devoted to his community, where he supports homeless shelters, prepares and serves meals to the needy, and provides lawn-care services for the elderly.

"It was an honor and very humbling to be selected among my peers to receive this award," Wentworth said.

The award is named in honor of former 123rd Airlift Wing Command Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Downs, who was an aerial port superintendent before passing away in 2009 after more than three decades of service. The award has been bestowed annually since 2012.

"Command Chief Master Sgt. Tommy Downs was a true hero who cared for nothing more than the Airmen around him," said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Pritt, air transportation manager for the West Virginia Air Guard’s 130th Logistics Readiness Squadron, who presented the award to Wentworth. "It didn't matter what rank, unit, branch or state they were from, he made sure they had the tools necessary to accomplish the mission and they felt his true compassion and love for the 'Port Dawg.'

"He immediately made you feel that you were a part of the family for which we are known. He defined the true meaning of our core values as far as integrity, service before self, and excellence — and everyone who came in contact with him knew that those words were much more than a phrase to him. It was a way of life.

“This award is to symbol our core values...Not just a phrase we say, but know it, understand it and live it."