July 29, 2009

Guardsmen fire from above at annual training

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT MCCOY, Wisc. — Soldiers from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment conducted aerial door gunnery training as part of their two-week annual training at Fort McCoy, Wisc., July 15-17.


Crew chiefs of the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation conduct aerial door gunnery qualification from their UH-60 Blackhawks at Fort McCoy, Wisc., during their annual training July 14-16. The battalion is supporting Global Patriot during their AT. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia guard Public Affairs) 

Firing M240 H machine guns from the side of a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter the Soldiers flew around the range multiple targets. The Soldiers fired at a wide range of targets, from moving vehicles to troops in the open.

The pilots flew the course several times without the crew chiefs firing to familiarize themselves with the limits of the range and orient themselves to the area before going hot, according to Capt. David Aaron Loy, range safety officer.

The orientation flights were vital to making sure the weapons were always engaged in a safe direction.


Crew chiefs from the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation prepare ammunition for the aerial door gunnery course at Fort McCoy, Wisc., July 15 as part of their annual training. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs) 

“For us to get good engagement on the targets, we need to posture our aircrafts, so that that door gun is pointed into the impact area,” said Loy. “It is imperative firers, safeties, pilots, everybody is aware of that muzzle direction at all times.”

After the pilots were familiarized and comfortable with the range the crew-chiefs locked and loaded the machine guns and began to engage the targets. The helicopters reached up to 80 knots during the daytime firing iterations. 

The range was almost constantly being run with two helicopters running back to back. When one Blackhawk returned to the star of the range, the next helicopter was already beginning its approach to begin the next iteration.

The training was both educational and fun for one of the newest crew chiefs in the battalion, Staff Sgt. Eduardo Murillo, a crew chief from Company B. “This was the most exciting training I’ve done in the Army,” said Murillo.

The Soldiers are required to complete the qualification once every year to remain current in their job requirements, said Murillo.

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