June 18, 2007

More than 200 Soldiers earn Air Assault badge at Fort Pickett

By 1st Lt. Jennifer McGhee
91st Troop Command Public Affairs

Sgt. 1st Class Corey Taylor pins the Air Assault Badge on Sgt. Mark Good of 91st Troop Command, Virginia Army National Guard during the graduation ceremony of the Warrior Training Center’s Air Assault Course. (1st Lt. Jennifer McGhee, 91st Troop Command Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Instructors, Soldiers, family members and friends gathered on June 9 to witness 134 Soldiers receive the coveted Air Assault badge. These Soldiers earned the badge as others before them have for the past 33 years.

The badge itself was created in 1974 but the concept of air assault, or air mobile, has been vital to Army operations since World War II. 

Ten days earlier, 240 Soldiers began the three-phased course at the Virginia Army National Guard’s Maneuver Training Center. The demanding instruction focused on combat air assault, sling load operations and rappelling. 

Command Sgt. Maj. Anthony D. Price, command sergeant major of the 29th Infantry Division and guest speaker for the ceremony, commended the Soldiers for their ability to meet and exceed the rigorous standards of the course. He reflected on his time in the course many years ago and the important lessons he learned from those who had not been able to maintain the standards. 

Four Soldiers arrived to the graduation ceremony on a UH-60 Black Hawk and rappelled into the field behind nearby. These Soldiers gained special recognition for their outstanding performance. 

Among those recognized was Sgt. Jason Lothspeich of North Dakota. Lothspeich, a member of Detachment 1, 818th Sapper Company in Dickinson, N.D., finished the 12-mile foot march in an impressive 2 hours, 9 minutes and 52 seconds. 

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