News: New York National Guard training takes to skies
Story by Col. Richard Goldenberg
By Capt. James Loy
642nd Aviation Support Battalion, New York Army National Guard
FORT DRUM, N.Y. – New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 642d Aviation Support Battalion conducted integration Annual Training in support of their fellow New York Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Battalion here July 19-22.
As the infantry Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company C, 2-108th, based in Gloversville, N.Y., conducted squad movement to contact in preparation for a squad attach during a live fire, aircrews from the Rochester-based Company F, 1st Battalion, 169th Air Ambulance company conducted pre-flight checks for their impending aeromedical evacuation of simulated casualties.
Company F is part of the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion. The battalion is currently deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, but the unit rear detachment is at Fort Drum this summer conducting annual training that includes
common Soldier Tasks, Mission Essential Tasks, individual weapons qualification, aerial gunnery and the mid-July MEDEVAC training that supported the 2-108th Infantry.
The training for Company F included working with the infantry to prepare a landing zone and then conducting static training and instruction for the infantry Soldiers. Troops reviewed flight briefs, basic medical task review, the 9-Line MEDEVAC request and aircraft loading procedures and evacuation training for litter patients and the jungle penetrator.
As the medevac aircrew departed to fly tactical routes across the training area, 1st Lt. Patrick Halpin, the Company C Executive Officer and his noncommissioned officer-in-charge, Sgt. Greg Marcott, organized the squads to receive the aircraft for MEDEVAC.
“This was a great, realistic training event that included Mission Essential Task training for both the infantry and aviation units,” said Capt. Shawn Tabankin, the 2-108th Infantry Battalion operations officer. “The infantry were able to work a live MEDEVAC bird into their event, utilizing their Pathfinder training to establish an LZ.”
As part of the training preparation, Company F Flight Medic Spc. Muhammed Shonibare, joined with the infantry platoon medic Spc. Joseph Sabin to help evaluate casualties and ready them for evacuation.
Sabin relayed the information to his team leader, Sgt. Richard Wager, who called in the 9-Line MEDEVAC to the aircraft. Within minutes, the UH-60 Black Hawk was on the landing zone and moving litters on board.
After completion of the litter evacuations, the infantrymen moved to the dense wood line and set up a hasty patrol base to then conduct medical evacuation using a jungle penetrator.
While pilots hovered steadily over the tree line, a flight medic descended into the training area to retrieve a simulated casualty. Once on ground, the flight medic loaded the patient on the jungle penetrator for extraction straight up to the hovering aircraft.
The integrated training proved to be a success for all elements involved, both in the air and on the ground.
“When we are able to conduct Aeromedical Evacuations with our pilots receiving and responding to actual 9-Lines, combined with our flight medics conducting actual medical tasks & extractions, it is great training,” said 1-169th Company F Commander Maj. Christopher Gagliardo.
“On the aviation side of the house, they were able to receive and process 9-lines, amended 9-lines, and perform the necessary Air-to-Ground integration,” Tabankin said. “There’s no simulation that can replace this kind of combined arms experience.”