By Pfc. Monica K. Smith
3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division
CAMP STRIKER, Iraq – When Kiowa Warrior helicopters from Fort Drum, N.Y., deployed with a combat aviation brigade from Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., the CAB didn't have a unit to properly support the maintenance needs of the scout helicopters.
Company B, 277th Combat Support Task Force, was created to support the Kiowa Warrior unit, 3rd Squadron, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd CAB, 3rd Infantry Division.
"We selected a few Soldiers from within the original Co. B, 277th who work on the Kiowa aircraft and consolidated them into a task force," said Sgt. 1st Class Barry Merchant, first sergeant, Co. B, 277th, from Fort Drum, N.Y.
In aviation, some maintenance is done at the line company or troop level. These procedures are called aviation unit maintenance. However at some point the aircraft may require a higher level of maintenance – aviation intermediate maintenance (AVIM), and that's where the combat support task force was needed.
Merchant said that while the original company at Fort Drum has about 200 people, there are 65 Soldiers here, maintaining the Kiowa aircraft.
"We supply the AVIM level support," said Sgt. Timothy Gossett, Co. B, 277th. "The line troop crew chiefs do maintenance but not at the level we do. It's not that they can't do the job, they just may not be familiar with it so we work together and in doing so complete the mission."
Company B, 277th maintains the Kiowas in several ways such as through structural repair, working on the engine, hydraulics and the power train. In addition, Co. B, 277th handles the avionics, which provides countermeasures to protect the aircraft, weapons, radios and the mast-mounted sights atop the Kiowas.
While deployed, Co. B, 277th, has integrated with the members of Troop D, 3-17 Cav. Regt., to perform maintenance on the Kiowas.
"Avionics work hand in hand with Troop D, 3-17 maintenance," said Spc. Sylvester Maradona, avionics mechanic with Co. B, 277th. "We work on whatever they are unable to get to, to keep the birds flying. We have a lot of people helping 3-17 to relieve the stress of the amount of work that piles up."
Members of Co. B, 277th understand that by working together, they support those who fly outside the wire on a daily basis.
"We help provide security," said Spc. Kristin Riofrio who repairs the avionics systems on the Kiowas. "That security not only protects the helicopters but also the pilots while they are doing their mission to help protect the ground troops."
This work, Drum task force maintains Kiowa warriors, by SPC Monica K. Smith, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.