Oct. 4, 2011

1-116th BCT makes Humvee fly at annual training

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen   
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — Though they only graduated the courses a few weeks ago, Soldiers from the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team were already putting the skills they learned during the U.S. Army Air Assault course and the U.S. Army Pathfinder school to use Sept. 19 at Fort Pickett during their annual training period.

 

Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team conduct sling load operations at Fort Pickett Sept. 19 during annual training. Many of the Soldiers involved in the operations were recent graduates of the Air Assault and Pathfinder Courses taught at Fort Pickett in August by the Warrior Training Center. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

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The Soldiers graduated the courses in August at Fort Pickett and, with the aid of a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, used their newly acquired skills to move a Humvee from one side of the training post to the other by sling loading it underneath the aircraft. The 1st Battalion warriors, who were on AT from Sept. 10-24, properly strapped the vehicle underneath the hovering helicopter before the aircraft took off to the sling load landing zone.

“We got here about an hour beforehand; we went through sling load operations with our new graduates from the Air Assault course,” said 1st Lt. Benjamin Melin, executive officer of Headquarters Company, 1-116th and a recent graduate of the Pathfinder course. “I inspected it as the pathfinder on the ground to certify the load. Once it was certified, we brought the bird in. They hooked it up to the CH-47 and right now, they're heading south where Staff Sgt. McCormick, a pathfinder who graduated with me, is on the ground ready to receive it. ”

 

Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team conduct sling load operations at Fort Pickett Sept. 19 during annual training. Many of the Soldiers involved in the operations were recent graduates of the Air Assault and Pathfinder Courses taught at Fort Pickett in August by the Warrior Training Center. (Courtesy Photo)

Click HERE to see more photos on Flickr.

During the two-week course, the Pathfinder students learned how to set up drop zones, sling load operations, and a whole variety of different things using an aircraft and drop zones on the ground.

“The main thing I took away was the ability to take a vehicle, sling load it, actually certify it, and have it go to a location the pilots have never seen before, so on the ground as pathfinder, we can certify a site that it is able to be used, and using our radio we can bring them into an unknown area and land equipment or personnel,” said Melin.

The exercise also incorporated the graduates of the Air Assault course and gave them an opportunity to sharpen their skills by giving them an up close, practical application of their knowledge by preparing the Humvee for transport.

“We had some students who just graduated Air Assault school last month and we wanted to use this opportunity to get them some hands-on training,” said Sgt. Jerry Leonhardt. “We were fortunate that we had the aircraft here because during Air Assault they didn’t have the aircraft. So they actually got to see the aircraft up close and personal, and actually got to sling load a vehicle today.”

“Today’s mission went really well. It tied in both the Air Assault graduates and pathfinders. The Air Assault guys did an excellent job,” Melin said. “For the sling load operations, I went and inspected it and everything was perfect, the crew chief came out and took a look at it and everything was perfect on the sling load.”

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