FORT HOOD, Texas – Dust and grass swirl in the air as a helicopter lands to pick up its combat load — a squad of infantrymen.
Troopers with Companies A and B, 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division here used two UH-60 Black Hawks to perform an air assault training mission Oct. 9, within training areas here.
The soldiers conducted the air assault mission as a portion of Operation Charger Chosin, a situational training exercise lasting more than 10 days.
“It was good to get the exposure of what it’s like to get on the (helicopter) in an organized fashion and off in an organized fashion,” said 2nd Lt. Austin Laetsch, a B Co. platoon leader and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native. “This makes our operations more complex, which is ultimately going to make our training better in the end.”
The operation was a collective M-2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle gunnery and squad maneuver training event that included each platoon within the companies. It also involved learning to use assets that were not a part of the battalion: the Black Hawks.
“It was my first time ever going on a helicopter,” said Pvt. Mikol Morales, a Buena Park, Calif., native and a B Co. infantryman. “I learned how to enter and exit a helicopter and specifics of my job like trench clearing.”
The air assault mission began with two squads of infantryman all crouched in a field waiting for the Black Hawks to pick them up. When the helicopters landed, the Troopers quickly loaded into them and were off the ground within minutes.
Upon the soldiers’ arrival to Landing Zone Robin, they exited the Black Hawks and assumed a crouched or prone defensive position before the helicopters took off, which was within minutes of landing.
The soldiers underwent hot and cold load training, during which the soldiers enter and exit the helicopter with their weapons and Improved Outer Tactical Vest and then again without, before the actual mission.
Once at LZ Robin, the infantrymen had to assault an objective, set up an observation point, and defend it against an enemy squad-sized element.
“We haven’t had any hiccups as far as training goes,” said Staff Sgt. Andrew Renfroe, an A Co. master gunnerand Sacramento, Calif., native. “and I think all the guys got some pretty good training out of it.”
The battalion remained in the training areas for about four more days to validate each company on the training so far.