62 MXG participates in Exercise Long Hammer/Rainier War

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  • By Senior Airman Tryphena Mayhugh

The 62nd Maintenance Group (MXG) participated in Team McChord’s Exercise Long Hammer/Rainier War here, Aug. 3-7.

The exercise tested Team McChord’s ability to rapidly deploy and conduct airlift operations while complying with real-world COVID-19 pandemic countermeasures.

For the 62nd MXG, they had five learning objectives to seek out during the exercise: sortie generation, cargo processing, contingency operations, security and COVID-19 operations.

“This is to carry out the crawl, walk, run aspect,” said Canadian Armed Forces exchange officer Maj. Daniel Bortolin, 62nd MXG officer in charge of maintenance operations and lead planner for the 62nd MXG involvement in the exercise. “In this circumstance, we have been fairly fortunate from a COVID-19 perspective where we haven’t had significant emergencies occur, but that isn’t to say it wouldn’t happen in the future. Conducting these exercises and planning for it better prepares us to make our organization more resilient.”

Each squadron and organization in the 62nd MXG were tested during the exercise. All of them had to wear facemasks and social distance while still completing their mission, but a few squadrons had injects tailored specifically to them.

“This exercise is a good tool to see where we are at and what we might need training in if something were to kick off,” said Tech. Sgt. Jereme Henson, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron (APS) special handling shift lead. “I think it’s always important to stay ready, know what you need to do and prepare for the worst.”

The 62nd APS processed 11 exercise and one real-world joint inspections during the five-day exercise, receiving various units’ personnel and equipment ensuring they were ready to be loaded onto aircraft.   They also conducted an engine running offload (ERO) cargo process on three aircraft during night operations.

“Not only did my unit get a lot of good training out of this to see a true indication of where we are at, I believe so did every other unit if they were to have to deploy or whatever the case may be,” Henson said. “I want to say thanks to all the units who played and I hope they learned something from it as well.”

The 62nd Maintenance Squadron completed a crash, damaged or disabled aircraft recovery (CDDAR) inject, which involved towing a C-17 Globemaster III with a simulated broken front landing gear. Large cables were attached between the two back landing gears and two vehicles and the aircraft was pulled 25 feet to demonstrate that the CDDAR Airmen were capable and ready to complete the task.

The 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and other agencies responded to a simulated C-17 aircrew member infected with COVID-19 landing at McChord Field. Once the simulated compromised crew and cargo had been processed by medical Airmen, the 62nd AMXS Airmen actually cleaned and sanitized the aircraft, as this would prevent further spread of a virus in a real-world situation.

“Our most important resource in our operation are our people,” Bortolin said. “With COVID-19 being a very highly contagious disease, it can quickly degrade our work force by either taking them out of commission or worsening by spreading to other agencies.”

Exercise Long Hammer/Rainier War is important not only because it provides Team McChord with an opportunity to practice like they play to rapidly deploy assets around the globe, but also because it shows McChord Airmen are capable of completing that mission even during the COVID-19 pandemic.