Thanks to Airlift, Burger King Still Reigns at Andersen AFB

A team of aircraft services specialists working with the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron on Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, secures a pallet of Burger King buns for transport headed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Due to unseen circumstances, the American Bakery in Guam could not deliver their obligated buns supply to all of the Burger King restaurants on the island, to include the one on Andersen AFB, which caused a ripple effect within the Exchange. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark A. Kauffman)
A team of aircraft services specialists working with the 733rd Air Mobility Squadron on Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, secures a pallet of Burger King buns for transport headed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Due to unseen circumstances, the American Bakery in Guam could not deliver their obligated buns supply to all of the Burger King restaurants on the island, to include the one on Andersen AFB, which caused a ripple effect within the Exchange. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark A. Kauffman)

Thanks to Airlift, Burger King Still Reigns at Andersen AFB

by Staff Sgt. Mark A. Kauffman
AAFES Okinawa Exchange

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service’s Burger King on Andersen Air Force Base faced a challenge the week of March 1. The restaurant was running low on buns—something that could ultimately dethrone customer satisfaction and the taste of home the Exchange is known for.

Because of unforeseen circumstances, the American Bakery in Guam was unable to deliver buns to Burger King. Exchange leaders quickly put their heads together for a solution—and thanks to partnership from the Air Force and Marines, the buns won.

“We reached out to our Exchange’s Logistics team in Korea to request an emergency air shipment but were told that the order would not arrive until March 15,” said Patricia Murauskas, Exchange general manager for Guam and Saipan. “We would be out of buns by March 5.”

Donald Weightman, who manages the Exchange bakery plant manager on Okinawa, contacted Col. Scott Maskery, Pacific Region commander, to see whether he had military connections to help transport the much-needed buns.

Maskery contacted military organizations seeking airlift routing from or through Okinawa to Guam. Lt. Col. Joshua Ehmen, commander of the 733 Air Mobility Squadron at Kadena Air Base, responded, and within three hours, a viable solution was in sight.


On March 3, Airmen assigned to 733rd Air Mobility Squadron loads nearly 3,100 Burger King buns onto a C-130 provided by the Marines Corps Air Station, in Iwakuni, Japan on Kadena Air Base, Okinawa headed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. In a joint effort, Airmen and Marines saved the Exchange an estimated $46,000 in combined commercial flight delivery costs and potential lost in sales from Burger King’s most popular sandwiches.  All of savings and sales translates into dividend contributions directly supporting quality of life and family support programs. (U.S. Army Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark A. Kauffman)

“I am thankful to be in a position where the Air Force and Joint Force has trained me well through all my previous assignments and experiences so I can leverage that knowledge to help posture our team for success,” Maskery said. “Ultimately, our job is to take care of the best customers in the world who are stationed within the INDO-Pacific Region.”

The Exchange’s Okinawa bakery, which makes and delivers Burger King buns to restaurants on the island, had extra buns to send to Guam. Weightman personally packaged 3,100 buns for transport.

“I am happy that I had a small part in this mission,” Weightman said. “It was very inspiring to see so many different teams involved, with such different responsibilities, with one goal in mind, and doing what it takes to complete the mission.”

A C-130 from Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan, already had a scheduled flight to Guam. The Marines agreed to help the Exchange and carry the buns to Andersen AFB. Within 36 hours, Murauskas and her team were on the flight line, receiving the critical help from the 36th Mission Support Group’s Commander, Col. Jasin Cooley.

“I would like to thank the Airmen of 36 MSG, they were great providing guidance and direction on what steps we needed for a smooth transition from aircraft to fork lifts on the flight line to our Burger King,” Murauskas said. “It was great being able to make new connections in the 36th Logistics Readiness Squadron and seeing old friends in the Andersen neighborhood.”

The assistance saved the Exchange an estimated $46,000 in combined commercial flight delivery costs and potential lost in sales from Burger King’s most popular sandwiches.

“My team identified a flight bound for Guam, and we were proud to be able to support our AAFES teammates,” Ehmen said. “We recognize and appreciate the customer service that the Exchange associates provide for us and our families every day.”

The partnerships that Maskery has fostered in his four and a half years as the AAFES Pacific Region commander helped set the conditions to accomplish this mission.

“The real success in this story was not just about delivering product to one of our facilities through an ad hoc opportune airlift movement. The real success story is our collective ‘finding a way to yes’ that resulted from and is reflected in the outstanding mission partnerships we have with the military commands and service members from all four services across the region,” Maskery said. “This truly demonstrates our ‘Pacific Pride’ in support of our mission and customers.”

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