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    The Pep Boys of Aviation

    Pep Boys of Aviation

    Photo By Sgt. Matthew Wright | Chief Warrant Officer James Bryson from Bravo Company, 640th Aviation Support...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Matthew Wright 

    40th Combat Aviation Brigade

    FORT HOOD, Texas – Many people rely on their vehicles for the routines in their lives, but what happens when those vehicles break down? Usually, we take them to a mechanic to get them repaired.

    But what if your routine includes flying an Army helicopter over Iraq and you don’t just break down but encounter structural or component damage? Then your mechanic will most likely be from the Bravo Company 640th Aviation Support Battalion of Los Alamitos, Calif. These mechanics will ensure that the helicopters of the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade will rule the skies when the brigade arrives in Iraq in the next few weeks.

    The 640th ASB has multiple functions, but as its name implies, its main purpose is to support and repair aircraft. Alpha Company refuels helicopters, Charlie Company is the communications arm of the support battalion, and Headquarters Company integrates everything and handles logistics. The mechanics of Bravo Company have the demanding task of keeping helicopters up and running and mission capable when problems go beyond unit level. This work at the intermediate level of aviation maintenance, or AVIM, includes tackling more technical repairs, such as damage from bullets and flak to aircraft sheet metal or the complete replacement of engines and transmissions damaged on missions. Their repairs are later validated with a Maintenance Test Flight completed by Bravo’s maintenance test pilots.

    If it were not for aviation mechanics like those in Bravo Company, there would be no aviation missions and therefore no air superiority for the U.S. Army over its enemies. “Our job is to repair the aircraft at different levels,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Lapomardo, a maintenance supervisor with Bravo Company. “We repair aircraft that need minor maintenance, to those aircraft that are deadlined, which are helicopters that cannot perform their mission because they are inoperable for whatever reason,” he said.

    The highest maintenance level, or depot level, is the sustainment level of maintenance. Numerous soldier Sustainment Maintenance Group, out of Fresno, Calif., have joined the 640th for this deployment and will also be working as members of the Bravo Company maintenance team. They bring additional experience and skills to the effort of maintaining helicopters used by the 40th CAB’s flight battalions. In Iraq, they will work on the brigade’s CH-47 Chinook troop helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters and OH-58 Scout/Attack Helicopters.

    The 640th’s maintenance crews also have an important job of retrieving helicopters that go down due to maintenance failure or attack from enemies in theater. These crews are called Down Aircraft Recovery Teams, or DART Teams. Their role is to go outside the wire of their base and either repair a downed aircraft on the spot or bring it back to their base for repair. This may encompass dismantling the aircraft for transport via ground transport or rigging the downed aircraft to be slung under a CH-47 and flown to the Bravo Company repair site.

    The soldiers of Bravo 640th have many responsibilities, from ordering replacement parts and keeping track of which aircraft are available to fly, all the way up to going into a hot spot to bring a fallen helicopter back and making it mission capable again. Their jobs are vital to the pilots and crews of these helicopters, but they also make sure those flight crews make it back safely after performing their missions in a hostile environment.

    “I am inspired by the professionalism, dedication, and commitment of Bravo Company’s mechanics and soldiers every day,” said Bravo Company commander, Maj. James Chavez. “They are a true model of teamwork within the 40th CAB.”



    Date Taken: 12.07.2010
    Date Posted: 03.30.2011 09:57
    Story ID: 67984
    Location: FORT HOOD, TX, US 

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