News: Training up a Storm: Preparing a task force to tackle the worst
Story by Capt. Richard Barker
FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHINDAND, Afghanistan – Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, (Task Force Storm), received training for a recently formed a Personnel Recovery Team at Forward Operating Base Shindand, Afghanistan, Sept. 10 and 11.
A personal recovery team is the first element to arrive at a scene in the event of an aircraft crash or forced landing. The purpose of the PRT is to provide security, recover personnel from the aircraft, and provide emergency medical care when necessary.
The team consisted mostly of volunteers from all of the companies within TF Storm. While the soldiers on the team all had their own reasons for volunteering, most of them followed a similar theme.
“If we can do more than our given jobs to contribute to the team then that’s what being a soldier is all about,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Greer, PRT noncommissioned officer in-charge and career counselor for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3-158.
Spc. Nicholas Ketchum, an Aircraft Powertrain Repairer with Company D, 3-158, is one of the soldiers who volunteered for the team. “This is something not everyone gets a chance to do,” said Ketchum. “It’s important because we have the potential to save lives and make a difference.”
The aviation battalion was transferred to the command of the 25th CAB in early September following the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade headquarters’ redeployment to Germany.
“We immediately began working with Task Force Storm to build a responsive and capable Personnel Recovery Team to respond to any downed aircraft event across the wide expanse of terrain in Regional Command West,” said 25th CAB commander, Col. Frank Tate.
The PRT received training, supervision and guidance from Pathfinders of Company F, 2nd Battalion, 25th Aviation Regiment, 25th CAB, who traveled to FOB Shindand with Tate for the event.
“It is important for all aviation units to have their own personal recovery team so they can secure their own downed pilots,” said Senior Pathfinder Instructor Staff Sgt. David Taber, F/2-25 AVN, who was selected to advise and assist in the team’s development. “Never leave a fallen comrade is part of the words we live by.”
Tate participated in the training first hand by taking on the role of a simulated medical patient, where he was able to analyze the team’s proficiency from a first-person perspective.
“I think this is was a great opportunity for the Brigade to come down and support us,” said Greer. “[The visit] has been very motivational and its feels good to know we have higher support.”