McChord Airmen travel ‘down under’ to train Aussies

  • Published
  • By Tyler Hemstreet
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The one-month trip to Australia was a temporary duty assignment that most Airmen only dream of. It provided a chance to take in the local culture, visit sandy beaches, eat exotic cuisine and even try out one of the country's most popular sports -- cricket.

But it was also a chance for four Airmen from the 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 12, and another from the 62nd Operations Support Squadron to refine their teaching skills and knowledge of the C-17 Globemaster III in a hands-on environment while simultaneously strengthening a bond between two allied countries.

Senior Master Sgt. Douglas Levesque, Tech. Sgts. Kevin Elmore and Christopher Stanelle and Staff Sgt. Brandon O'Dell of the 373rd TRS, Det. 12, and Tech. Sgt. Michael Olmstead of the 62nd OSS accompanied a group of five other Airmen from various U.S. bases on a trip to Royal Australian Air Force Base Amberley to help Australian airmen at the No. 36 Air Lift Squadron get comfortable with their new C-17, which was delivered in December.

In order to effectively teach the Australians, McChord's Airmen first attended training by Boeing to learn the system upgrades that the Australians' new C-17 contained.

"It was exciting for our guys to see what the new model looked like and then put the new training into effect right away," Sergeant Levesque said.

In addition to providing classroom instruction, McChord's Airmen also provided flightline support for the Australian maintainers during flying operations.

"We were there as more of a guiding role," Sergeant Levesque said. 

"We wanted to instill confidence in their guys during the troubleshooting process. We didn't step in and lead the show until they were totally stumped."

Having the group of McChord's Airmen on hand to oversee the maintenance process and help the squadron get used to the new aircraft helped immensely, said RAAF Sgt. Gladstone Brohier.

"We wanted to have their expertise in the background to help reinforce our guys' knowledge and give them something to fall back on if there was a problem," Sergeant Brohier said.

Sergeant O'Dell said he also got an immense amount of pride out of the mission.

"It was great because I could see the product of what we [worked to teach]," he said. 

"I had a lot of pride because these were the guys I trained, and then to see them really go and do everything was great."

The American Airmen even went beyond the standard training and helped the squadron to get acclimated with their new aircraft in other ways, Sergeant Levesque said.

One of those duties included helping the Australian airmen file their technical orders in a more organized fashion, Sergeant Levesque said.

The help and experience McChord's Airmen provided also played a critical role in helping the Australians' goal of getting their airworthiness certification later this year, he said.

The experience also created some life-long memories between Airmen from the two countries. 

"It was good to see Aussie and American Airmen walking out of a RAAF C-17," Sergeant Brohier said.

"That's a classic picture of a very close relationship between two countries which I think is a positive thing all around."