HomeNewsArticle Display

Exercise Thunderdome: Preparing Airmen for worldwide deployments

Airman 1st Class David Long, 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron conventional maintenance technician, left, and Senior Airman Kyle Wilson, 4th Logistics Readiness Squadron air operations specialist, right, secure cargo straps on palletized bags during Exercise Thunderdome 17-03, Nov. 30, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. After being secured, the pallets are weighed, measured and inspected. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Boyton)

Tech. Sgt. Samone Hallums (left), 4th Logistics Readiness deployment NCO in charge, and Senior Airman Lurenza Hutchison, 4th Force Support Squadron career development technician, exchange paperwork during a simulated pre-deployment for Exercise Thunderdome 17-03, Dec. 1, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. This exercise assessed the overall capability based on the Personnel and Cargo Deployment Functions to process and depart chalks on time. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Miranda A. Loera)

Airmen from the 4th Fighter Wing participate in Exercise Thunderdome 17-03, Nov 30, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The exercise tested the wing’s capabilities to provide air superiority at a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Boyton)

Airman 1st Class Cristopher Echevarria Arroyo, left, 4th Component Maintenance Squadron avionics apprentice, and Staff Sgt. Gregory Elliott, 4th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, simulate a wand test during a processing line for Exercise Thunderdome 17-03, Dec. 1, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. More than 100 members of Seymour Johnson participated in the exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Miranda A. Loera)

Airman 1st Class Nathan Stripling, 4th Component Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, left, directs a fork lift driven by Senior Airman Paul Carress, 4th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance technician, right, during Exercise Thunderdome 17-03, Nov. 30, 2017, at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina. The exercise served to evaluate the 4th Fighter Wing’s ability to rapidly deploy Airmen and aircraft for contingency operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Victoria Boyton)


Seymour Johnson conducted a three-day exercise to assess the overall capability and readiness of the base.

According to Lt. Col. Matthew Worling, 4th Fighter Wing inspector general Exercise Thunderdome 17-03 planner, these exercises are created to test every aspect of a base to ensure it is deployment ready. From aircraft generation to medical processing, the focus is to learn where the weaknesses are, train Airmen, and to have Airmen become familiar with short-notice deployments.

“Air Force headquarters sends in annual mission assurance exercise requirements that have to be completed,” said Worling. “During this exercise we wanted to focus primarily on improving the personnel and cargo portion of a deployment.”

Worling said they prioritized the focus on high-risk areas on base, or an area which can improve efficiency.

Tech. Sgt. Samone Hallums, 4th Logistics Readiness Squadron deployment NCO in charge, was one of the many participants in Thunderdome 17-03.

“My task during this exercise was to go through the processing line and ensure I was ready to deploy,” said Hallums, “Which is very important, considering this is a real-life exercise. Anything can happen at a moment’s notice and you just want to ensure that everyone is prepared.”

During a deployment processing line, members of medical, finance, Judge Advocates and chaplains are there to ensure a smooth route.

Members of the 4th Equipment Maintenance Squadron work on the outside of a PDF line. From weighing pallets to directing fork lifts, they ensure all the bags and items are secure and within regulations before loading on to the aircraft.

From ensuring all bags are packed and within regulations to being the lead for her chalk and being responsible for everyone of lower ranking, Hallums added this exercise not only helped her, but also the Airmen who have never been in a scenario similar to Thunderdome 17-03.

During the exercise members of the wing inspection team, oversee what goes, and take notes. Even prior to the exercise, WIT members spend months planning and creating injects. Afterward reports are made and they attend debriefings to exchange notes about the exercise.

Master Sgt. Julie Nix, 4th Force Support Squadron lodging section chief, acted as the FSS lead WIT member.

“My function as a WIT member is to make sure the wing is executing the mission quickly and efficiently,” said Nix. “We take notes throughout the exercise for debriefing and also help with on-the-spot adjustments.”

Nix said her job was important because she directly supervised those participating and was able to help guarantee they knew the importance of what they were doing.

Although the exercise was only three days, it presented an opportunity to fine-tune the wing’s deployment processes.

“We went through this exercise in the hopes that we can build muscle memory on what we are learning throughout the procedures,” said Worling. “We have a lot of younger Airmen and a lot of folks who have never experienced an exercise or training before, so part of this is to expose them to those types of pressures and help them learn the weaknesses we need to strengthen. If we ever have to do short-notice deployments, we will know what to do and know we are proficient in the job.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.