News: Maine Aviators Conduct Operation Timberhook
Story by Spc. Adam Simmler
MILLINOCKET, Maine - Aviators from the 126th Aviation Regiment assist the Baxter State Park Authority to move building materials to remote camping sites.
Soldiers of the Maine Army National Guard’s Company C, 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, who normally specialize in using helicopters for medical evacuation, traded their first-aid stretchers for cargo sling kits in order to lend a hand to Baxter State Park staff, and in turn, the visitors that enjoy the park.
“Without the National Guard’s help, this project would take all winter, inevitably things would get broken and people would get hurt,” said Stewart Guay, deputy chief ranger at Baxter State Park. “We’re able to provide them some awesome and challenging terrain in which to train, so it’s mutually beneficial.”
During the Nov. 2 mission, “Operation Timberhook,” soldiers used 100-foot sling-lines attached to the bottom of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters to carry materials such as cedar logs, firewood, propane tanks, and sand, to remote locations in the park. The materials will be used to renovate old camping sites and lean-tos, and build new ones near Wassataquik Lake.
Soldiers from Maine’s 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment were on hand to provide critical mission support to the pilots and crews of the 126th. Spc. Philip Kramer, a helicopter crew chief from the 142nd, commented that a lot of people don’t know that the Maine Army National Guard has an aviation component, and that he’s glad to get out and do something that will help his community.
According to Stewart Guay, the partnership between the crews and helicopters of the Maine Army National Guard and Baxter State Park goes back for decades; coordinating their efforts in emergency medical and rescue situations, to missions like Operation Timberhook.
During the day, the crew of one Black Hawk took a break from carrying supplies and trained park rangers on how to load injured park visitors into the UH-60 for medical evacuation. This training will ensure that both the National Guard and parks authority are prepared in the event of an emergency, and will help their efforts to save lives.
Guay concluded, “we take our relationship with the Guard very seriously and we hope to keep it going, it’s truly outstanding.”
At the end of the day, when the soldiers from the 126th and 142nd had completed their mission, they boarded their aircraft for the short flight back to Bangor, and are ready when needed to take to the air and assist their state.