POPE FIELD, N.C. -- Airmen from the Dyess's 317th Airlift Group set a world's record for the largest C-130J formation during a Joint Operational Access exercise on June 19. JOAX is a 12-day combined military training exercise designed to prepare Airmen and Soldiers to respond to worldwide crises and contingencies. "This was the largest JOAX since September 2011," said Maj. Josh Leibel, 317th AG. "Servicemembers from all across the Air Force and Army came together to make the exercise possible." Dyess supported JOAX with 20 C-130Js and 87 aircrew members, which delivered Soldiers and equipment to multiple drop zones. "During the exercise the 317th AG set a world record for the largest C-130J formation," Leibel said. "Just as impressive as the 20-ship formation, our aircrew delivered 2,426 paratroopers and more than 140 tons of equipment to support the Army's training."
Not only did Dyess support the exercise with aircrew and aircraft, servicemembers on the ground worked nonstop to ensure operations went smoothly. "I'm very proud of everything these guys did," said Senior Master Sgt. Rodney Jones, 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "They worked hard every day and every night to get the aircraft ready to go. I look forward to deploying with them." "Once the engines started cranking up I got goose bumps," said Airman 1st Class Matthew Martin, 317th AMXS. "It was such a good feeling seeing the largest C-130J formation fly out knowing we all did this. It made all the hard work we put in worth it." Exercises such as JOAX give Dyess servicemembers the unique opportunity to train as a team with other military branches. "This training is very important," said Senior Airman Jamie Richardson-Granger, 317th AG loadmaster. "I've learned a lot since I've been out here. We actually get to see more of the real-world equipment we would drop operationally, things that aren't normally available to us at home station." It's good to come out here and see how the Army and Air Force coordinate," he added. "Both branches worked together to ensure training requirements were met." While JOAX plays a vital role in keeping U.S. military members trained and proficient, it's increasingly difficult to financially support these exercises under sequestration. However, Dyess were able to work through these constraints. "About this time last year Dyess 317th was tasked as the lead unit for JOAX 13-03," Leibel said. "A few months ago it became apparent that under current government financial limitations that reaching the objective for both the Air Force and Army would require some creative options and divergence from the normal way of executing operations and exercises especially of this size. "Through collaberation with the Army, our fiscal saving measures resulted in the exercise bed down cost of about $65,000 which is a 76.6 percent reduction and savings of around $215,000," he added.