FORT POLK, La. - Two technical inspectors, a part of the Downed Aircraft Recovery Team attached to the 4th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, "Wings of the Eagle," get in full battle gear along with their cold weather protection to go to a downed-aircraft location.
They must successfully assess whether the downed AH-1 Cobra helicopter needs to be repaired on site or slingloaded back to Gorgas Army Airfield for intensive repairs.
They catch a ride with the Company B, 4th Bn., 101st Avn. Rgt., "Kingsmen".
Two days before the intensive training at the Joint Readiness Training Center near Fort Polk, La., began, a downed aircraft, for training purposes only, was reported to "Wings of the Eagle" tactical command post.
The training scenario unfolds with a helicopter going down Oct. 7, and unable to be repaired on-site leaving two other options to slingload or destroy it if the aircraft is not salvageable.
If the condition of the aircraft was determined unrecoverable, the Cobra would be destroyed on site to preclude sensitive items and other technology from getting into the hands of the enemy.
"It would be better to destroy the aircraft than to leave the aircraft, because the remains could be used by the hostiles as propaganda," said 1st Sgt. Adam Barber, the first sergeant for Company D, 4th Bn., 101st Avn. Rgt., "Desperados." "Since all of our aircraft have many identifiers, the equipment is destroyed -- the team will ensure nothing is verifiable before leaving the area completely."
After the technical inspectors assessed the Cobra, they checked to see if there was anything keeping it from being slingloaded back to the airfield for repairs.
"We would look for any ordnance to remove, so that it doesn't cause problems later and look for cracks in the frame causing the load to be unsafe," said Sgt. Jeremiah Adkins, a technical inspector for the "Desperados".
The technical inspectors deemed the aircraft good enough for slingload and communicated to the UH-60 Black Hawk pilots to send the DART members to conduct slingload operations.
"Kingsmen 44, this is Desperados A team," said a soldier on the radio. "The aircraft is good for slingload." The pilots then relayed the information back to the Tactical Command Post.
A CH-47 Chinook helicopter taxied the DART members and their equipment to the site to set up security and conduct slingload operations. They they completed the task expeditiously and safely in an effort to bring the equipment and personnel back to Gorgas Army Airfield.
"Every Soldier that is a part of the DART is crossed trained, because anything can happen at any time when you are in a hostile environment," said Barber. "Every (military occupational specialty) within DART works together as a team to ensure the mission gets done safely and effectively in order to get the bird and personnel back in the fight."
The technical inspectors went back to Gorgas Army airfield to continue on with a different training mission, because the fight isn't over until the mission is complete.