Story by Maj. Cindi King
EASTOVER, S.C. – After more than a decade of serving in combat together, the various branches of service and components continuously look for ways to sustain and further develop their interoperability and relationships. For Soldiers in the South Carolina Army National Guard, drill weekend was an ideal opportunity to work with Airmen from Joint Base Charleston, Jan. 10, 2015, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, Eastover, South Carolina.
The joint training event was to practice loading a UH-60 Black Hawk for transport into a C-17 Globemaster III for air transport.
“The last time the majority of our Soldiers loaded one of our helicopters into a cargo aircraft was in 2008 for deployment to Iraq,” said 1st Sgt. Kenneth Caldwell, Company A, 1-111th Aviation Battalion, S.C. Army National Guard. “We have many young Soldiers who have never had a chance to see how this works.”
An Air Force Reserve team from the 701st Airlift Squadron, 315th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, flew their C-17 to McEntire Joint National Guard base for their drill weekend to execute the air transport training with the South Carolina Army National Guard.
“Training like this is important because we can identify issues now, so if have to load for long distance deployments and can’t self-deploy, our Soldiers will know how it is done,” said Caldwell.
The morning included a safety brief, a loadmaster overview of what would take place, preparations for the UH-60 Black Hawk to be pushed onto the C17 ramp using a small tow and then carefully guiding it on the ramp.
The goal was to load one helicopter nose first, and the other one tail first to demonstrate to the teams how each is configured when secured on the Globemaster III. After one of the Black Hawks was loaded, the C-17 pilots took the Soldiers for a short takeoff and landing so they could see how cargo is secured and have the experience of being in a large cargo aircraft with their Black Hawk.
Caldwell added the training was equally valuable to him, because he recently returned from a state partnership engagement in Colombia, where he assisted the Colombian military practice air load their helicopters onto a cargo aircraft too.
“There are many skills that are a part of the air load, to include folding the blades, removing antennae and hazardous materials certification.”
Master Sgt. Eric Walker, a loadmaster with the 315th Airlift Control Flight at Joint Base Charleston, said the training went very well and they hope the two units can train more in the future.
“There are lots of areas where we can help and be creative with training opportunities,” said Walker. “Sometimes the first step is just asking the question, can it be done?”