News: Soldiers, Airmen come together for training mission
Story by Staff Sgt. Justin A. Naylor
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Stryker combat vehicles are big—15 tons of reinforced metal, rubber and weaponry big. Now try moving one across the world with a full complement of Soldiers, food and equipment, and you’ve got quite a job ahead of you. Fortunately, the Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster is perfectly suited for it.
Soldiers from 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 3-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 7th Infantry Division, and their Air Force partners from the10th Airlift Squadron, spent a day training to load and unload Stryker vehicles, crews and equipment onto and from aircraft at McChord Field at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 19.
“I think it’s good that you exercise the Army and the Air Force together … it brings us together to de-conflict any difficulties we are having,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Chris Harriss, a Virginia Beach, Virginia, native and the mobility officer for 7th Infantry Division who helped coordinate the training. “As many times as you do this as one service, as an Army, you’re never going to get the full experience of doing it jointly with the Air Force and truly find out what it takes to move a force off the installation.”
The day began early with phone calls from leaders to their Soldiers informing them of the short-notice training. After assembling their gear and vehicles, the Soldiers moved Strykers on to the airfield and went through the process of weighing and measuring the vehicles and loading them onto the aircraft. The vehicles were joined by their crews on the C-17 where Airmen taught them how to ratchet down equipment to keep it from moving during flight.
“It’s the first time we’ve been able to work in conjunction with the Air Force and actually bring the Strykers through the whole process and load them,” said Lt. Col. Doug Walter, a Cedar Grove, Ind., native and 5-20 Inf. battalion commander.
Walter said this was an eye-opening event for his Soldiers, many of whom having never worked with the Air Force before.
“So now they have a complete understanding of the process and they have the skills to assist as far as tying down Strykers and building the pallets,” Walter said. “I thought that went really well.”
Walter was especially happy with how the loadmaster who worked on the C-17 took the time to teach his Soldiers how to help load and secure their own vehicles on the aircraft.
“The loadmasters have been great,” he said. “They’ve been going above and beyond to really help the guys out and make sure they do everything they need to do.”
For the Airmen, the Soldiers provide an extra set of helping hands.
“The more people who can do little tasks like this during a mission, the quicker a mission can run,” said Airman 1st Class Ker Vang, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native and loadmaster with 10th ALS.
Vang said that training like this helps everyone learn to move Strykers onto the C-17s in a safe and efficient manner.
While the Strykers may be big, the C-17 is a whole lot bigger, and after this training, Airmen and Soldiers alike are better prepared to bring the two together and accomplish any mission they are given.