August 14, 2008

ESGR Bosslift exposes employers to military life

By Spc. Andrew Owen
29th Infantry Division Public Affairs

Jaime Naughton, a supporter of the ESGR straps into a UH-60 Blackhawk for a tour around the city of Richmond. Naughton was selcted to participate in the Bosslift program by Capt. Larkin Scott, an officer with 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment. (Photo by Spc. Andrew Owen, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — Civilian employers of Virginia National Guardsmen were given a rare treat Aug. 3 at the Army Aviation Support Facility at the Richmond International Airport. Employers were given a chance to participate in the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve’s Bosslift program with aviation support from the 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment.

The battalion provided several UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters to take the approximately 40 employers on an aerial tour of the greater Richmond area.

The day began with a series of briefings, including an extensive safety briefing to familiarize the civilian employers with the Blackhawk. They were educated on what the battalion does and where they have been in the past few years in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as how their air support helps the community here in the United States with homeland defense roles. 

According to Lt. Col. James Ring, battalion commander, the regiment played an integral role to the success of U.S. Soldiers in Iraq. The battalion returned from a tour in Iraq last year.

After the briefings concluded they were taken across the tarmac to where the pilots and crew chiefs were going through their pre-flight checks and inspections.  The Guardsmen’s civilian employers were then given one final safety briefing, and buckled into the helicopter. The pilots then took off in a group of three Blackhawks, and took the employers on a 30 minute tour around the city of Richmond and the James River.

Civilian employers await take-off from the Richmond International Airport as a part of the Bosslift program, a program designed to show appreciation of employers who have shown exceptional support of Soldiers in the Virginia National Guard. (Photo by Spc. Andrew Owen, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)


Upon their return many of the employers were grinning from ear to ear. One such happy rider was Eric Howard, a network operator at Yahoo, who said, “That was the coolest thing I’ve ever done… I had a ball.”

Howard is a coworker of Sgt. David Testa, an avionics technical inspector with D Company, 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment.  Testa said he had invited some of the “big bosses” to participate, but to Howard’s satisfaction they had prior engagements in Nebraska.

While the first chalk was touring the city from the sky the second chalk was given a complete tour of the maintenance hangars. They were given a bird’s eye view of Soldiers working on keeping the Commonwealth’s aviation assets up and running. 

Following the flights they were given a final briefing about how the ESGR works and what they do for both the Soldiers as well as the employers.

“We not only serve the National Guard, but all seven services and reserve components of the Department of Defense,” said Thomas Stephen Jr., executive director of ESGR, Virginia Committee. He thanked them all for their continual support of the Virginia National Guard. “Without your support the whole volunteer concept is not going to work.”

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