News: Air Assault School brings valuable skills to troops
Story by Spc. Bradley Wancour
FORT HOOD, Texas - The Fort Hood Air Assault School class 003-12 graduated 87 students Sept. 17.
The guest speaker, Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, explained the need for soldiers to be trained in air assault operations.
“The mobility, flexibility and lethality of air assault operations require soldiers and leaders who have mastered a very specific set of skills,” Campbell told the graduates. “These include aircraft orientation, sling-load operations, proper repelling techniques and fast rope techniques.”
The graduates of the Air Assault School spent 10 days learning those skills, while being mentally and physically challenged.
“The 87 soldiers who stand before you today have mastered all these skills,” Campbell said. “They have endured the rigors of daily
physical training which culminated in a 12-mile timed ruck march this very morning.”
While Campbell recognized the worth of the course in relation to air assault operations, he stressed the importance of the school in another light as well.
“After completing this training, the graduates are skilled in the art and science of air assault operations, but that is not the total value of this course,” he said. “The Air Assault School creates and reinforces strengths that are universal to all aspects of our military profession. This training is valuable to all Soldiers in all corners of the Army.”
While the students of the course may not have hailed from all corners of the Army, they did come from all corners of Fort Hood and a few other places besides.
“In this class alone, we have graduates from III Corps Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 13th Expeditionary (Sustainment Command), the 89th Military Police Brigade, 1st Medical Brigade, the 85th Civil Affairs Brigade and the 36th Engineer Brigade,” Campbell said. “We also have graduates from Fort Carson, [Colo.], and Fort Sill, [Okla.].”
The commanding general said the graduates will take the knowledge they learned to go on to greater heights, and to inspire others to greater heights as well.
“No matter where these soldiers go for the rest of their careers, they will make a difference,” Campbell said. “Their contributions will matter; they will continue to set the standard, just as they are doing today. They are professional soldiers, air assault soldiers.”
Campbell expressed his pride in the accomplishments of the graduates, echoed by Staff Sgt. Aaron
Taylor, an Air Assault School instructor.
“I’m very proud of all the soldiers who went through Fort Hood’s Air Assault School and earned their wings,” he said, noting the rigors of the school.
“The hardest part of the course is probably the sling load operations,” he said. “The soldiers have to retain a lot of knowledge after they are already sleep deprived and physically and mentally drained. To be able to retain all that knowledge and pass both the inspections and the written test, they need to be at the top of their game.”
In addition to retaining knowledge while mentally and physically exhausted, the soldiers had to overcome their fears and place trust in one another in order to succeed, Taylor said.
“They needed to cultivate trust in their battle buddies to belay them as they were getting ready to rappel down 55 feet off the tower or out of a helicopter,” Taylor said. “They have to be able to trust somebody else to save them if something goes wrong.”