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NEWS | May 21, 2015

Eleven C-17s take to the Lowcountry skies

By Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs

Exercise Crescent Reach kicked-off May 18, 2015 at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and began it's critical sequence May 21, 2015 when 11 C-17 Globemaster IIIs took to the skies over the Lowcounty after taking off from the JB Charleston flightline in 30 second intervals beginning at approximately 7:45 a.m. 

Crescent Reach is an annual mobility and large formation exercise that tests the combat readiness and capabilities of a participating installation by providing airlift to a large number of forces and cargo. The exercise requires the support to be provided in a short period of time.  

The 11 C-17s traveled to Pope Air Field, N.C., where they met up with four other Charleston C-17s and airdropped more than 1,500 paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne from Fort Bragg, N.C., as well as ciritical equipment, simulating a Joint Forcible Entry of the Global Response Force. Additionally, six C-130s from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas and Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., an E-8 JSTARS from Robins ARB, Ga., and two F-16s from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., also participated in the exercise. 

"This [exercise] allows us to perform just about every aspect of our combat mission including the development of intelligence scenarios, getting aircraft ready to launch, loading aircraft, and performing airdrop and special operations, in addition to surviving in a chemical environment and performing landings on semi-prepared runways," said Col. John Lamontagne, 437th Airlift Wing commander.  "Exercises, such as this one, provides the 437th and 315th Airlift Wings a realistic scenario to operate as a team, which enhances our ability to conduct a variety of challenging worldwide missions."

Though the exercise was a snapshot of the combat capabilities and speed of airpower, it was not in response to any real world threats, according to Lt. Col. Cassius Bentley, 15th Airlift Squadron commander.

"To be effective, we train how we fight," Bentley said. "We usually do exercises in a crawl or walk phase, but Crescent Reach 2015 was always on a run phase."

The Crescent Reach exercise allowed for Airmen to complete more than 500 training requirements keeping JB Charleston mission ready. 

According to Maj. Jason Okumura, 437th Aerial Port Squadron commander, the exercise was an impressive display of mobility capabilities.

"Watching 11 C-17s take off in sequence is an impressive display and testament to the hard work Airmen do on a daily basis," Okumura said.

During the mobility portion of the exercise the aerial port squadron processed nearly 100 tons of cargo and more than 260 passengers.

"The aerial port squadron's role in the exercise is just a glimpse of what we do on a daily basis," Okumura said.

This LFE is a total-force effort with aircrews consisting of active-duty Airmen from the 437th AW and Reservists from the 315th AW. However, none of the planes would have taken off without the Airmen from the 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said Lt. Col. Adam DiGerolamo.

More than 750 highly motivated Airmen, who generate these planes every day, did an amazing job ensuring each plane took off with-out a hitch, DiGerolamo, 437th AMXS commander added.

"Hats off to the Airmen across the wing and the installation who made the exercise a success," DiGerolamo said. "We just had 11 planes take off and not one of them ran late."

The overall JFEX was a "mission well done," said Bentley.

"None of this would have been possible without the impressive teamwork and dependability of each squadron and unit who was a part of the exercise," Bentley said. "We never know when the 82nd is going to call us for airlift and since they are one of our biggest customers we want to ensure we provide as much integration with them as often as possible. This exercise is a great way to identify any lessons learned and to come up with ways to improve the process."