News: Guard members fuel students’ interest in Army aviation
Story by Sgt. Lauren Twigg
PHOENIX -A common interest in aviation brought local area high school students and Citizen Soldiers from the Arizona National Guard together recently for an aviation career day.
Members of 2nd Assault Helicopter Battalion, 285th Aviation Regiment, with the Arizona Army National Guard, welcomed students from South Mountain High School Magnet Aviation Program to the Army Aviation Support Facility No. 1, at Papago Park Military Reservation, April 4, to showcase Army aviation careers to a new generation.
“The purpose of this visit was to get the kids exposed to options, primarily Army Guard aviation opportunities, and what it would take to be accepted into the organization,” said Air Force Col. Marty Park, retired, an aircraft maintenance science and technologies instructor at South Mountain High School. “The tour capitalized on what is taught at the school, where in our program, we are aviation-geared and career-broadening.”
The tour started with a brief overview and a video compilation highlighting the unit’s various missions from the past several years. From there, it was off to the hangar.
“I hope that these young people will share what they experienced today with their friends and families to help educate our communities about what we do and how we do it for our state,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 Timothy Graves, a UH-60 Black Hawk maintenance test pilot and tour guide during the students’ visit. “I would have loved to give them a ride in a UH-60 to finish off their field trip and keep them energized in the field of aviation.”
The commander for the 2-285th AHB said he feels strongly about the opportunity to mentor students and make a positive impact on their futures.
“We were successful in providing students an overview of Army aviation, students got the chance to sit in a Black Hawk, climb into our mobile air traffic control tower, saw aircraft mechanics in action, and heard live radio communications in flight operations,” said Lt. Col. William Waddington. “We welcome any opportunity to expose students to career opportunities in Army Aviation.”
Not only did this provide a learning opportunity for the aspiring aviators, but it also helped link the community with Arizona Guard members in a big way, said Waddington.
“These events build community relations and expose high school students to military career opportunities,” Waddington said. “Hosting these events at AASF No. 1 enables us to share our passion for aviation and military service with high school aviation programs, Boy Scout troops, and community-based organizations.”
Waddington also pointed out that the Soldier-community interaction projects a positive image of the Arizona National Guard, where citizens get to see Soldiers and equipment in action and truly appreciate the many duties of a Guard Soldier.
Giving back, Graves said, also heightens awareness within the community of the Arizona National Guard’s many missions and functions.
“To me, the patch on our left shoulder shows that we work for our Governor and can be called on to perform an assortment of missions to help our state be a safer place to live,” Graves said. “From wild-land fire fighting or floods in remote places to supporting law enforcement – it is important that the people in Arizona know that we are here to do our part.”