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    Scout-attack helicopters got your back: Redcatcher Soldiers team effort keeps eyes in the sky

    Scout-attack helicopters got your back; Redcatcher Soldiers team effort keeps eyes in the sky

    Photo By John Crosby | Sgt. Christopher Moser, an airframe mechanic of 4th Squadron 6th Cavalry Regiment...... read more read more

    By Spc. John Crosby
    115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

    MOSUL, Iraq - When Soldiers conduct ground operations in the urban environment that is Mosul, Iraq, they face many dangers. Small-arms fire, indirect fire and roadside bombs are a constant threat to dismounted Soldiers and vehicles alike. Up-armored vehicles and crew served weapons provide a sense of security to these Soldiers, but an additional asset allows coalition forces and Iraqi security forces ground troops to gain a better piece of mind. This piece of mind is provided by the OH-58DR Kiowa Warrior helicopter.

    "Mosul is one of the last stopping points for the insurgency in Iraq," said Flight Operations Officer Capt. Brian Carr. "It's very vital that we get this city safe and back into Iraqi control. What our responsibility is to provide aerial support to the American coalition forces and also Iraqi security forces."

    The Kiowa is a single engine, double bladed armed reconnaissance helicopter used in the role of a scout attack bird in support of ground operations. The Soldiers of 4th Squadron, 6th Air Cavalry Regiment from Fort Lewis, Wash., maintain and fly these agile helicopters in Mosul and all of Ninewa province, providing security, extra fire power and confidence to the "boots on ground" troops.

    "The ground guys love us because we make noise over their head and scare the enemy off," said Chief Warrant Officer George Siegler, a Kiowa pilot in 4-6 Air Cav. "On some occasions we get to find the bad guys and kill them, which of course the ground guys love as well."

    "I was a ground guy for years," Siegler continued. "I have been that guy who needs the suppression and support from aircraft, so I love giving these supporting the guys and gals on the ground.

    Since deploying to Iraq in June, 2007, 4-6 Air Cav., Task Force Redcatcher pilots have flown more than 29,000 hours over their approximately 30,000 square km area of operations.

    "Our unit support is outstanding," said Chief Warrant Officer Jack Varble, a pilot in 4-6 Air Cav. "These guys will do anything and everything to make sure we have all of the information we need to complete our mission in the air."

    More than 2.5 million gallons of fuel have been pumped from three Redcatcher forward arming and refueling points in Ninewa province to keep these birds of prey soaring. Soldiers working the FARPs are trained and ready to rearm and refuel a Kiowa in minutes, enabling pilots to return to the fight in as little time possible.

    "The guys on the FARP work as fast and safe as possible," said Varble. "They get us back up into the air as fast as possible to complete our mission. Without them we couldn't complete our mission."

    "Their real fast, sometimes we'll call ahead and let them know there are birds inbound and we need fuel or armament fast," said Siegler. "They always accommodate us. They're great!"

    As with any aircraft, several hours of maintenance are required for every flight hour in the Kiowa.

    "We determine whether or not the birds are operational," said Spc. Mario Aguilar, a Kiowa crew chief in 4-6 Air Cav. "Occasionally they will see birds come in with battle damage. We've been hit with mortars and rockets here, damaging our birds. We work as quickly and efficiently as possible in order to make the bird operational again."

    Ten months into their 15-month deployment, Soldiers of Troop E have completed more than 300,000 maintenance tasks amounting to more than 280,000 man hours of work.

    Aguilar said something as small as a leak can cost somebody their life. It's very important to be thorough because people's lives depend on it.

    The mission of the Air Cav. is a huge responsibility over all. The ground Soldiers depend on the pilots who depend on their support to keep the mission operational.

    "The most rewarding part is to know that somebody's Soldier, somebody's husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend comes home because we were able to provide some aerial support," said Carr. "Whether it be with covering fire or our presence making the enemy intimidating the enemy into not coming out and harming our Soldiers."



    Date Taken: 04.21.2008
    Date Posted: 04.21.2008 17:46
    Story ID: 18636
    Location: MOSUL, IQ 

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