MORRISVILLE, N.C. - North Carolina Army National Guard soldiers with the 449th Theater Aviation Brigade headquarters were busy March 1 loading equipment and supplies in preparation for 15 days of annual training at Fort Fisher, just south of Wilmington on the North Carolina coast.
The training exercise will compile lessons in critical skills, such as aviation, topography, artillery, medical care, communications and section-specific tasks, for approximately 70 citizen-soldiers responsible for supporting a unit with a fleet of more than 130 aircraft.
Such training includes establishing a deployable rapid assembly shelter, combat lifesaver certification, driver training in the sand, land navigation, generator procedures, and more.
Staff Sgt. Richard Lopez, the supply sergeant for the unit, said his main mission is to set up the headquarters operations center shelters, which takes about four days to set up, and is an intricate quick-erect tent system from which the brigade’s leaders and staff man their equipment and monitor the aviation "battlefield."
“It’s going to go really well,” Lopez said, “It’s not our first time setting one up, and especially being an aviation unit we are very safety-oriented.”
Members of the TAB were busy the day before the approximately 145-mile convoy inspecting vehicles and trailers to ensure a smooth and safe trip. Spc. Brittany Eye, a combat medic, said she was looking forward to her first annual training.
“I think it’s going to be really good, because it’s more of a one-on-one experience. It’s more personal and you can learn easier in that kind of environment. So I think the training we’re going to be doing is actually going to be more beneficial to the battalion as a whole,” Eye said. “I’m looking forward to the camaraderie, going out [to work] with the unit and getting to know each other better.”
All National Guard soldiers participate in annual training events in addition to monthly weekend training events, where they have the opportunity to learn and expand upon their Army knowledge and skills to maintain their readiness and ability to be called upon, as well as build trust and camaraderie.