Air Assault at East Range graduates 188 Soldiers, Airmen

| January 25, 2013 | 0 Comments
A Soldier rappels out of a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter hovering 60 feet above the ground during the final rappelling test for the Air Assault Course, Jan. 17.

A Soldier rappels out of a CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter hovering 60 feet above the ground during the final rappelling test for the Air Assault Course, Jan. 17.

Story and photos by Sgt. Matthew Ryan
25th Infantry Division Public Affairs

Soldiers hang over the end of the loading ramp of a helicopter that is hovering 60 feet above the ground, holding onto a rope as they wait for the hand signal to go.

The Tropic Lightning Division sponsored an Air Assault Course at East Range Training Complex (ERTC), here, Jan. 7-18. The cadre was from Army National Guard, Company B, Warrior Training Center, Fort Benning, Ga.

“We only get to come to Hawaii about every other year to offer the course, making it in high demand,” said Staff Sgt. Dustin Wade, cadre phase one chief, adding that this was one of the larger classes he’s seen.

Of the 338 Soldiers from 25th Infantry Division, and various units across Hawaii who met to vie for the coveted badge, only 188 qualified.

“The hardest thing was the hands-on sling-loading testing and procedures,” said Staff Sgt. Lucas Swotek, Co. B, 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th ID, and cadre for the pre-Ranger course on ERTC. Swotek was distinguished honor graduate with the overall highest grade point average .

“The most exciting thing was the tower,” said Staff Sgt. Samuel Ruben, weapons squad leader, 2nd Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT. “I would do it again.”

Soldiers and Airmen who didn't complete the "Zero Day" run and obstacle course to standard were eliminated.

Soldiers and Airmen who didn’t complete the “Zero Day” run and obstacle course to standard were eliminated.

Air Assault is a grueling two-week course that begins on “Zero Day” with a run and an obstacle course; Soldiers and Airmen who did not complete them to standard were eliminated.

Day one transitioned into classroom work and hands-on experience of sling-loading equipment from below a helicopter. Once the classroom work was completed at the end of the first week, the candidates moved to practice rappelling from the tower. Each candidate had to perform three successful rappels from the tower in order to proceed to the final rappel from an aircraft.

The next week was all classroom instruction and testing, beginning with air mobile, and then sling-load operations. Each candidate performed all the necessary steps and to the highest standard before they proceeded onto the next phase.

Phase three was rappelling from a Marine CH-53 Sea Stallion, holding more than 20 people, hovering roughly 60 feet above the ground. For many of the remaining candidates, this event was the most exciting part of the course.

"Lock in, look at me, and go!" are the last words heard before Air Assault Badge candidates exit the Marine Corps Ch-53 Sea Stallion heavy lift helicopter.

“Lock in, look at me, and go!” are the last words heard before Air Assault Badge candidates exit the Marine Corps Ch-53 Sea Stallion heavy lift helicopter.

Candidates were loaded into the helicopter 20 at a time, and then they came down one at a time. By this point in the course, less then 200 students were left in the course out of the 338 who started.

“This was the best part of the course … to be dangling over the ledge, looking straight down at the ground, 60 feet above,” said Master Sgt. Jimmy Cox, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 2nd BCT.

At the start of the final test was a 12-mile road march, which had to be completed within three hours. Only 191 Soldiers still remained.

Master Sgt. Jimmy Cox, platoon sergeant, Headquarters Motor Platoon, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, hovers over the ledge of a 40-foot rappel tower, Jan. 8, as part of an Air Assault Course, sponsored by the 25th ID.

Master Sgt. Jimmy Cox, platoon sergeant, Headquarters Motor Platoon, 1st Bn., 27th Inf. Regt., 3rd BCT, 25th ID, hovers over the ledge of a 40-foot rappel tower, Jan. 8, as part of an Air Assault Course, sponsored by the 25th ID.

A few hours after the road march, friends and family gathered at Sgt. Smith Theater, here, Jan 18. The theater was overflowing with people to honor the Soldiers and Airmen who completed the course.

Once remarks were complete, family and friends pinned the Air Assault Badge on their Soldier.

Pacific Command Response Force

Schools such as the Air Assault Course train Soldiers to be tactical and proficient for any situation that may arise for the Pacific Command Response Force.

The PCRF covers the entire Pacific and provides aid or necessary support anywhere within the region within a short time frame.

 

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Category: News, Training

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