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McChord aircrews train for global response in joint exercise

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Divine Cox
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
C-17 Globemaster III aircrews from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., joined paratroopers late October to conduct quick reaction force drills in North Carolina for future worldwide crises and contingencies.

Joint Operational Access Exercise 16-1, a nine-day combined military training exercise, prepared air mobility forces, along with Army and Canadian paratroopers, to respond as part of a global response force. The joint force can deploy and have service members on the ground anywhere in the world within 96 hours.

"The main purpose of the exercise from the Air Force perspective was to safely execute global response force training," said Col. David Owens, the 62nd Operations Group commander. "We wanted to conduct large formation operations and insert the 82nd Airborne Division."

McChord loadmasters were tasked daily to load cargo and personnel onto C-17s for the exercise at Pope Army Air Field, N.C.

"I am responsible for every load that enters and exits the aircraft," said Staff Sgt. Eric Hatchey, a 8th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "I wanted to make sure I did everything right to ensure safe delivery of all cargo and personnel."

Not only did McChord units support the exercise with aircrew and aircraft, Airmen on the ground worked nonstop to ensure operations went smoothly.

"I'm very proud of everything these guys did," said Capt. Justin Jarrell, a 62nd OG weapons officer and JOAX lead planner. "They worked hard every day and every night to get the aircraft ready to go."

Loadmasters had to configure and reconfigure the aircraft to support each daily mission.

"Once the engines started and the aircraft took off, I knew it was game on," said Staff Sgt. Jose Montoya, a 8th AS loadmaster. "This was my first personnel drop and seeing cargo and personnel leave the aircraft safely was a good feeling. The attention to detail and hard work the crew put in made this experience enjoyable."

In addition to the crews in the air, Airmen from the 62nd Maintenance Group at McChord Field also supported operations by providing maintenance support. In all, approximately 35 McChord Airmen played a role in the success of the exercise.

"From day one, I preached safety, mission and execute," Owens said. "Daily, these Airmen impressed me by safely executing every mission."

Exercises such as JOAX give McChord Airmen the opportunity to train as a team with other military branches. According to exercise planners, the joint team successfully met all of their training objectives.

"McChord's involvement in the joint exercise was a success," Jarrell said. "All of the paratroopers landed safely and we met our objectives. It was a relief to know that all the effort we put in and the coordination with the 82nd ABD was successful.

''It's good to come out here and see how the Army and Air Force coordinate,” he added. “Because of this continuous training, as a force, we will be ready to respond when called upon."