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Airmen, Soldiers conquer subzero temps during Arctic Pegasus

A U.S. Army Soldier drives an Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker onto a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Arctic Pegasus at Deadhorse, Alaska, March 13, 2018. Airmen assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing flew two C-17 Globemaster IIIs to deliver Army Soldiers and four Strykers to Deadhorse for the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A U.S. Army Soldier drives an Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker onto a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Arctic Pegasus at Deadhorse, Alaska, March 13, 2018. Airmen assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing flew two C-17 Globemaster IIIs to deliver Army Soldiers and four Strykers to Deadhorse for the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A U.S. Army Soldier drives an Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker out of a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Arctic Pegasus at Deadhorse, Alaska, March 13, 2018. The 62nd Airlift Wing participated in the exercise by transporting Soldiers and Strykers from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to Deadhorse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A U.S. Army Soldier drives an Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker out of a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Arctic Pegasus at Deadhorse, Alaska, March 13, 2018. The 62nd Airlift Wing participated in the exercise by transporting Soldiers and Strykers from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to Deadhorse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A C-17 Globemaster III flies over Deadhorse, Alaska, during Exercise Artic Pegasus March 13, 2018. Deadhorse is one of the farthest northern points in Alaska and presented an opportunity for the Air Force and Army to practice operating in cold weather together during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A C-17 Globemaster III flies over Deadhorse, Alaska, during Exercise Artic Pegasus March 13, 2018. Deadhorse is one of the farthest northern points in Alaska and presented an opportunity for the Air Force and Army to practice operating in cold weather together during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

Danny Batchelor, 445th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron nightshift foreman, directs a U.S. Army Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker onto a C-17 Globemaster III at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, March 13, 2018. Airmen assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing participated in the exercise to practice cold-weather operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

Danny Batchelor, 445th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron nightshift foreman, directs a U.S. Army Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker onto a C-17 Globemaster III at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, March 13, 2018. Airmen assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing participated in the exercise to practice cold-weather operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Soldiers and an Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker exit a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Arctic Pegasus at Deadhorse, Alaska, March 13, 2018. The exercise tested the Air Force and Army’s ability to operate in cold weather. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Soldiers and an Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker exit a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Arctic Pegasus at Deadhorse, Alaska, March 13, 2018. The exercise tested the Air Force and Army’s ability to operate in cold weather. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A C-17 Globemaster III taxis to a runway during Exercise Arctic Pegasus at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, March 13, 2018. The 62nd Airlift Wing sent two C-17s to deliver Army personnel and Strykers to Deadhorse, Alaska, during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

A C-17 Globemaster III taxis to a runway during Exercise Arctic Pegasus at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, March 13, 2018. The 62nd Airlift Wing sent two C-17s to deliver Army personnel and Strykers to Deadhorse, Alaska, during the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Alex Hoffman (left), 7th Airlift Squadron pilot, and Capt. Richard Elliot, 8th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot, begin a decent in a C-17 Globemaster III to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, March 11, 2018. Airmen assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing flew to Eielson as part of Exercise Arctic Pegasus to practice cold-weather operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Alex Hoffman (left), 7th Airlift Squadron pilot, and Capt. Richard Elliot, 8th Airlift Squadron instructor pilot, begin a decent in a C-17 Globemaster III to Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, March 11, 2018. Airmen assigned to the 62nd Airlift Wing flew to Eielson as part of Exercise Arctic Pegasus to practice cold-weather operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Airmen and U.S. Army Soldiers work together to load an Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker into a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Artic Pegasus at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, March 13, 2018. The purpose of the exercise was to practice cold-weather operations in Deadhorse, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Airmen and U.S. Army Soldiers work together to load an Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker into a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Artic Pegasus at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, March 13, 2018. The purpose of the exercise was to practice cold-weather operations in Deadhorse, Alaska. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samantha Martino, 7th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, secures a U.S. Army Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker inside a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Artic Pegasus at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, March 11, 2018. For the exercise the Air Force picked up and delivered Army Soldiers and Strykers to Deadhorse, Alaska, to practice cold-weather operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Samantha Martino, 7th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, secures a U.S. Army Interim Armored Vehicle Stryker inside a C-17 Globemaster III during Exercise Artic Pegasus at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, March 11, 2018. For the exercise the Air Force picked up and delivered Army Soldiers and Strykers to Deadhorse, Alaska, to practice cold-weather operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., --

Braving the bitter winds and freezing temperatures of Alaska, 62nd Airlift Wing Airmen teamed up with Soldiers for Exercise Arctic Pegasus from March 11 to 14.

During this four-day exercise, Airmen assigned to the 7th and 8th Airlift Squadrons transported approximately 30 Soldiers and four Interim Armored Strykers in two C-17 Globemaster IIIs from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, to Deadhorse, Alaska.

“A lot of what we’re doing these days operationally is all joint exercise,” said Capt. Alex Hoffman, 7th AS pilot. “[Working with other branches helps in] figuring out how we can work out our different, unique assets or strong points together.

“It’s not just the Air Force or Army doing their own thing, everything is interconnected,” he continued. “Realistically this is what we’ll be doing – taking the Army. It’s always good to train with the actual people and not just simulate dropping them off.”

Working in these frigid conditions was a new experience to many of the Airmen participating in the exercise. However, flying and unloading cargo in cold weather while the Army simulated an operation provided critical training that helps maximize full-spectrum readiness. Even the newest members of the team recognized the value of this training to maintain rapid global mobility capabilities.

“This exercise was to see how we’re able to handle arctic conditions and to work with the Army to build our relationship with them,” said Airman 1st Class Samantha Martino, 7th AS loadmaster. “I really enjoyed it, I thought it was a cool experience to go up as far north as we can and work with the Army.”

For the Army, working with the Air Force in joint exercises provides them the opportunity to sharpen their skills on procedures involving aircraft.

“Working with loadmasters and aircrews … they have a level of expertise on the procedures necessary for us to deploy our platforms with aircraft,” said Sergeant First Class Philip Piennette, Crusher Company 321 platoon sergeant. “Due to the type of operation this was, everyone in my organization is now better from learning how that goes.

“Everything from the inspection process, to the cleanliness of the vehicle, to how it’s chained down, how it’s loaded and off loaded – they’ll use that for the rest of their career,” he continued. “The Stryker platform and C-17 probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, so learning how to deploy both of them in conjunction with one another is exceedingly valuable for the young Soldier.”

In addition to the joint training advantage, the temperatures offered a unique environment. With a respective average high and low temperature of -7 and -21 degrees during the month of March, Deadhorse provided an ideal location for Airmen and Soldiers to practice cold weather operations.

“It’s something we don’t see very much, for sure,” Hoffman said. “Depending on what sort of situation the U.S. may find itself in, it’s definitely good to train in those environments to see how our equipment and people work and all the stuff that gets affected by cold weather.”

Once Airmen and Soldiers arrived at Deadhorse, the loadmasters pulled on their protective layers and stepped into the freezing temperatures to unload the Strykers on their aircraft.

“When we’re opening up we want to try and get everything on and off as fast as we can so we’re not freezing,” Martino said. “It was warmer than I thought it would be but the engines were still running and blowing snow everywhere making it super difficult to see. You want to try and do everything fast so you don’t have to be outside.”

The low temperatures also created potential icing hazards. To help mitigate those hazards the engines were kept running while the team was on the ground.

“The outer rim of the engines have hot air running through them, so that’s protected, but the actual fan blades themselves can build up ice,” Hoffman said. “If you get a big chunk of ice and it breaks off and goes into the engine, it’s bad. So we [run the engines] every once in a while to get them hot and moving to avoid that.”

Innovative approaches to accomplishing operational objectives support the Air Mobility Command’s mission – Prepared Today, Ready Tomorrow, and exercises such as Arctic Pegasus help Airmen be ready for any situation.