Southern Strike Training Exercise

Every day men and women in uniform risk their lives for our freedom, but first they have to learn the skills that equip them for battle. Right here in our backyard, our armed forces join together every year for the Southern Strike training mission. Tonight was their last night in Gulfport.
Before October, Crew Chief Thomas Hill has never flown in a military airplane. “It’s unbelievable to see the things that this big airplane can do. The things that we support overseas, it’s just a great experience to be a part of.”
For the past month, he’s been aboard the Jackson, Mississippi C-17 Aircraft saving lives, well at least training to save lives. Hill is one of 2,000 soldiers from 26 different states and every branch of the military sharpening his skills though Southern Strike. Southern Strike is a realistic training mission in Gulfport. His exact mission is training to rescue injured soldiers in live combat. “The A crew goes in, they set up a little hospital in the back there. To see that touches my heart. It motivates me to make sure this airplane stays going so we can get out injured troops, get them back where they need to be so they can be taken care of,” said Hill.
The aircraft that Hill is riding in isn’t just any plane, it’s the largest in the state of Mississippi. “Unlike a traditional plane, we use a stick to fly the airplane,” said Commander Wes Carter, “We can take off at 585,000 pounds. We can land in a field shortage 3,500 feet and we can go all over the world basically nonstop.”
The point of these realistic scenarios is to prepare soldiers for real life combat, whether it’s to save their lives or someone else’s. General Major William Hill said, “We train with our Air Force people and we know each other and we talk the same language but when we get into the fight and we’re working with some Army people, who may not speak the same language as we do, we try to do that in a training environment so that when we have to do that for real in the heat of the battle, we’re used to it and can adapt to it.”

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