News: Helocasting, change of command ceremony complete Army Reserve training
Story by Spc. Bryan Randolph
MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Jumping out of a helicopter and into water is not a typical training event for most Army Reservists, but for soldiers of the 982nd Combat Camera Company (Airborne), it was just one more training task to complete.
The unique unit, which is headquartered in East Point, Ga., is one of only two combat camera units in the entire Army. So, by default, their training tends to be a bit more out of the box, said Capt. Raymond Childress, outgoing commander, 982nd Combat Camera Company (Airborne).
“We do this training because we are combat camera, and we’re supposed to be able to provide full support for the Army’s unified land operations … that includes forced entry and waterborne insertion as well,” Childress said.
The five-day battle training assembly included a variety of events ranging from physical training to documentation techniques to a change of command.
However, the most exciting task on the schedule was the helocasting, said Maj. William Wood, incoming commander, 982nd Combat Camera Company (Airborne).
“It was our apex training event for this weekend,” Wood said.
Helocasting consists of groups of soldiers jumping into water out of helicopters that are between 5- to 10-feet above the surface and moving around 5 to 10 knots.
Though the water the combat camera soldiers landed in was the beautiful shoreline of Tampa Bay, it was still not a lazy day at the beach, said Staff Sgt. Brendan Stephens, an NCO with more than 22 years of combat camera experience.
“Once we get up over the ocean and see all those boats, it starts getting really exciting,” Stephens said.
After all of the soldiers jump into the water, the helicopter flies away. Then the soldiers swim toward nearby boats where fellow soldiers help them out of the water.
Once the soldiers finished their helocast training, they moved directly into the change of command ceremony on the MacDill Air Force Base beach.
With dripping-wet uniforms and blood pumping, the combat camera soldiers welcomed a new commander.
“We’re not doing the training to make a spectacle for the change of command. It’s just easier for us to finish that, do our change of command, I take off and the incoming commander replaces me. We’re just here and it worked out that way,” said Childress, a Houston native.
Wood, a Radcliff, Ky., native, expressed excitement at how the training events all came together and said he was looking forward to the opportunity to lead the unique Army unit.
“It’s exactly the speed I was looking for,” said Wood.
The new commander said the training at MacDill Air Force Base also allowed his soldiers the opportunity to work and coordinate with airmen, which is invaluable training since joint service environments are common for combat camera soldiers.
Wood doesn’t want to stop the unique training there though. He is also looking for new training opportunities.
“In Atlanta, there’s a huge opportunity to bring in civilians, masters of their trade, to bring their skill sets into help training our [soldiers] in documenting fast-moving, fast-paced missions,” Wood said.
Childress is heading to Fort Benning, Ga., where he will serve as an operations and planning officer for 1st Brigade, 98th Training Division.
Date Posted:07.31.2013 14:59
Location:MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, FL, US
Hometown:EAST POINT, GA, US
Hometown:HOUSTON, TX, US
Hometown:RADCLIFF, KY, US
Hometown:WILSON, NC, US