News: Americans help Americans train at Vibrant Response
Story by Sgt. Juana Nesbitt
CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. – The wind picks up and words go silent as three Black Hawk helicopters fly overhead.
These make up only a fraction of the aircraft available here during Vibrant Response 13-2, a training exercise, designed to merge response efforts between military, local, state and federal agencies during a simulated catastrophic incident.
For most of the 5,700 participating personnel, Vibrant Response is just practice. For Soldiers of Delta Company, 5th of the 159th General Support Aviation Battalion, a U.S. Army Reserve unit out of Clearwater, Fla., it is the real deal.
Through a meticulous schedule of before, during and after preventive maintenance checks, as well as daily inspections, Cpl. Katherine Malave of Clearwater, Fla., a Black Hawk helicopter mechanic, and her team ensure the aircraft are is always ready for a mission, said Malave.
“We are here for the Vibrant Response training mission and my job is to make sure that the helicopters are up in the air,” said Malave.
“Overall there are 36 helicopters assigned to the task force here and we do the maintenance for all of them,” said 1st Sgt. Joseph Wright of Yorktown, Va.
Malave said, the job of a helicopter mechanic is not easy.
“Patience is key,” said Malave. “Sometimes things don’t work out the way that you would expect.”
Malave explained technical proficiency is necessary for the overall success of what they do.
“If there is something wrong that we didn’t find before, that aircraft can fall right out of the sky,” said Malave. “It’s why you have to know what you’re doing.”
The process of troubleshooting a helicopter can be quite tedious, said Malave.
“It can be as simple as something not working and we just swap out a component and put a new one in,” she said. “Or it could be as difficult as something’s wrong with the flight controls.”
Flight controls in a helicopter is a really big system that consist of everything from the main rotor, tail rotor, the pedals and everything in between, said Malave.
“If you can’t figure where the click is coming from, then you have to take the whole system apart and inspect each part,” said Malave.
Despite the long days, they said they stay focused and understand the importance of their efforts.
“It’s our product,” said Wright. “If we see it take off, then we gave a good product in a timely manner to get them out there to do the mission.”
U. S. Northern Command, led by U.S. Army North (Fifth Army) conducts Vibrant Response and coordinates timely federal military response to disasters in the homeland to help the American people in time of need.
“We are Americans helping Americans,” said Malave. “We are here for whatever they may need us to do to help save lives.