Inaugural Air Assault School helps attendee overcome fears

| May 27, 2011 | 0 Comments
2nd Lt. Brett Brown (right), HHC, 8th MP Bde., 8th TSC gets his air assault wings pinned on by Staff Sgt. Marcus Mitchell (left), HHC, 8th MP Bde., during his Air Assault School graduation, May 11.

2nd Lt. Brett Brown (right), HHC, 8th MP Bde., 8th TSC gets his air assault wings pinned on by Staff Sgt. Marcus Mitchell (left), HHC, 8th MP Bde., during his Air Assault School graduation, May 11.

Story and Photo by
Spc. Marcus Fichtl
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs, 8th Theater Sustainment Command

WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD — It takes a village to raise a Soldier, but it takes a Soldier to graduate Air Assault School.

2nd Lt. Brett Brown, long-range plans officer, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, graduated from the inaugural Air Assault School, here, May 11.

The Air Assault School was once an active component of the training program on Schofield Barracks, but it was discontinued due to continued deployments in support of overseas contingency operations.

The last class held in the Schofield Barracks Air Assault School was in 2005. Because of the high operational tempo, the Air Assault School became a low priority and instruction was temporarily ceased — until now.

Toothpick thin, brand new to the Army and with a fear of heights, Brown was one of five people chosen from the brigade to go to Air Assault School, a 10-day course that teaches air assault techniques, including rappelling from helicopters and preparing sling-loads.

The course also includes a 12-mile march that tests both the physical and mental capabilities of its students.

Rumored to be one of the most physically-challenging, 10-day schools in the Army, most Soldiers take months to prepare for the course.

“I was nervous and excited. I knew I only had 12 days to prepare, but this was my opportunity to challenge myself,” Brown said.

But failure and doubt were not options for Brown or the long-range plans shop he belongs to.

“Him being in our shop (and) me being air assault (qualified), there was no way he would fail,” said Staff Sgt. Marcus Mitchell, plans noncommissioned officer, HHC, 8th MP Bde. “If one of us is tackling a task, then we are all tackling that task.”

Mitchell said shop members taught Brown how to pass the obstacles smartly, emphasizing the use of legs, as the air assault cadre would employ push-ups and bear crawls in between obstacles to render the arms useless. They conducted multiple packing list inspections, and they emphasized that any opportunity to get extra help from instructors was an opportunity that Brown could not let pass.

“If it wasn’t for Mitchell, I wouldn’t have been going to Commandant’s Time — time where the cadre gave extra help — and could have easily been part of the 75 Soldiers who failed their rigging inspections,” Brown said.

But conquering a fear of heights, however, was all on Brown.

“One of the things they tell you to do (when you are preparing to rappel) is to look where you are going, and they’re yelling that you need to look down,” Brown said. “I was like, ‘Well, this sucks.’ This is terrifying for me, but I’m not going to quit.”

He didn’t quit. Finishing the road march in under three hours, with a third of his body weight on his back, Brown was one of the 130 Soldiers who passed the course, out of 240 who started.

“When he asked me (to pin him), it was an honor,” Mitchell said. “This is the first time I’ve been asked to pin wings on (someone).”

Tags: , ,

Category: News, Training

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *