News: Marine Corps at Barstow providing support for Fort Riley helo testing unit
Story by Keith Hayes
BARSTOW, Calif. — Ninety Army personnel from Fort Riley, Kan., are eating three square meals a day at the Family Restaurant aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow while working at the Barstow-Daggett Army Air Field.
Right now, 200 military and civilian personnel tasked with testing the limits of the Attack Helicopter 64 Apache Block III are working at the small airport in the middle of the Mojave Desert, according to Army Col. Ed Gutierrez, director, Aviation Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command, Fort Hood, Texas.
Gutierrez said the flight testing to determine the airworthiness of the Apache has been done elsewhere. Now, the real world testing of the Apache’s various weapons systems is being conducted by the 1st Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Riley.
“Our charter [as the Aviation Test Directorate] is to take [this helicopter] that may be purchased by the Army and put it through its paces with real users,” the native of Brownsville, Texas, said.
During the testing phase of about 90 days, the soldiers from the 1-1 are taking up an offer from Col. Daniel P. Ermer, commanding officer, MCLB Barstow, to use the Family Restaurant as their dining facility, said Jann Stovall, AVTD deputy director.
“The test unit itself, the 1-1, right now is staying at a hotel [in the city of Barstow] and eating at the dining facility at the Marine Corps Logistics Base,” Stovall said.
Gutierrez added his thanks for the logistical support of the Marines.
“Colonel Ermer has been gracious enough to open the doors of MCLB to us and support us in [getting our soldiers fed] including a couple of logistical hiccups we were having when we first got here and some other matters that he rendered aid as well.”
Stovall said the Family Restaurant will also be providing hot meals in the field rather than having the soldiers eat Army rations.
“During the actual testing period of about a week and a half, the soldiers will be living in tents [at Barstow-Daggett Army Air Field] just as they would in the field,” Stovall continued, “and the Marine Corps Logistics Base will be supporting them by providing chow that is trucked in.”
Ermer said the situation creates a win for everyone concerned.
“We’re providing chow support which is going in to our Family Restaurant,” Ermer said. “[The Army is] paying a contract to get that food, which comes back to benefit the base.”
“We serve all of DoD with logistics at this base, so to help them is really to help us as well. It’s one team, one fight,” the colonel concluded.