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    Insert Batteries Here: New York Army Guard Aviation Unit Puts Arty on the Spot

    New York Aviation Unit Puts Arty on the Spot

    Photo By Master Sgt. Raymond Drumsta | An aircrew of the New York Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Raymond Drumsta 

    New York National Guard

    Story by Master Sgt. Raymond Drumsta, 42nd Infantry Division
    FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation rose -- and flew -- to the challenge May 4-6, airlifting artillery troops, artillery shells and howitzers for a 10th Mountain Division unit and their fellow Guard unit operating in the field.

    The aviators flew a total of eighteen 105 mm howitzers, 22 Soldiers and artillery ammunition to opposite sides of Fort Drum for the 10th Mountain Division's Alpha Battery, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment and the New York Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery.

    The New York Army Guard aircrews set the guns down within 25 meters of the positions his troops had chosen, said Capt. Jack May, Alpha Battery commander.

    "Our formations are critical to ensure we can fire on our azimuth of fire without shooting over another gun position," he said. "We told them 25 meters and they nailed it. They dropped the guns right where they needed to be."

    The 142nd is part of the New York Army National Guard's 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, and operates UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters. Its headquarters is in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. and its other companies are based in Latham, N.Y. and Farmingdale, N.Y.

    The exercise tested the 142nd's ability to receive, plan, prepare, rehearse, and execute an air-assault mission, all within 72 hours, said Maj. Paul Bailie, the battalion's executive officer and Latham, N.Y. resident.

    It was a major training objective, and it successfully exercised everyone in the battalion, from planners to pilots, said Lt. Col. Kevin Ferreira, the battalion commander.

    "It tested our ability, and the supported units' ability, to pull off a large-scale mission in a short amount of time," said Ferreira, a resident of Rotterdam, N.Y.

    The mission was the culmination of a tactical scenario that called for the battalion to rapidly deploy to a simulated overseas location -- the
    fictional nation of Atropia - deter a foreign invasion and support a counter-attack.

    Though their plan called for them to deploy to field on May 1, tornado warnings and other training stand-downs delayed their departure until about 5 a.m. on May 2, Bailie said. Nonetheless, the battalion rapidly set up their command posts, bivouac areas, logistics base, and tactical assembly area -- and were ready when they were ordered to conduct the air-assault mission for the 10th Mountain Division troops, he added.

    Shortly after dawn on May 4, battalion aircrews flew Alpha Battery Soldiers from the south side of Fort Drum to two landing zones in its northwest corner. While the artillery troops chose gun positions and marked them with panel markers for their scheduled live-fire exercise, the aircrews flew south to airlift the guns to the landing zones.

    Unlike a Humvee or packaged supplies, a howitzer isn't a deadweight according to Bailie, a UH-60 pilot with over 2,600 flying hours. The guns, which were sling-loaded in a ready-to-fire configuration, presented a potentially dangerous flying challenge for the pilots, he stressed.

    "Imagine you're on a swivel," he said. "That thing can start oscillating."

    Pilots use various methods -- like making S-turns while flying -- to compensate for the guns' sway and stabilize their aircraft, Bailie said.

    However, the S-turn method makes it difficult to maintain the flying formation necessary to set the guns down where requested, he explained.

    "It's a feat in and of itself," he said.

    But the aircrews accomplished that feat. About two hours after airlifting the Alpha Battery Soldiers, the aircrews returned -- flying in tight
    formation -- and set the guns down where the troops wanted them.

    This was the second time Alpha Battery worked with 3rd Battalion troops, Bailie and May said. Over four days in mid-April, four battalion aircrews conducted support and air-assault missions for the battery, Bailie recalled.

    All those missions resulted in mutual training advantages, said May, of Athens, Ga.

    "We don't do this too often," May said. "To get four air assaults in one month is fantastic."

    On May 5 and 6, battalion aircrews performed the same mission for the New York Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 258th Field Artillery -
    airlifting a half-dozen 105 mm howitzers to the southeast corner of Fort Drum.

    "This entire exercise was rewarding," said Ferreira. "Everyone came together and worked as a team. I'm extremely proud of the entire battalion in accomplishing this mission."



    Date Taken: 05.04.2017
    Date Posted: 05.09.2017 11:44
    Story ID: 233159
    Location: FORT DRUM, NY, US 

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