• Pfc. Olivia Newberry, a student of the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault School class 05-14, prepares to rappel down the 50-foot tower, Feb. 12, 2014, as a part of her graded portion of phase three. This marks the first of many rappels for Newberry during the training.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Pfc. Olivia Newberry, a student of the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault School class 05-14, prepares to rappel down the 50-foot tower, Feb. 12, 2014, as a part of her graded portion of phase three. This marks the first of many rappels for Newberry during...

  • Spc. Stephen Ramunno, a student of Fort Hood's Air Assault class 05-14, inspects an A22 cargo bag, Feb. 7, 2014, during the phase two test on sling load operations at Fort Hood, Texas. Students are required to know how to rig loads to rotary wing aircraft and identify any deficiencies during testing.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Spc. Stephen Ramunno, a student of Fort Hood's Air Assault class 05-14, inspects an A22 cargo bag, Feb. 7, 2014, during the phase two test on sling load operations at Fort Hood, Texas. Students are required to know how to rig loads to rotary wing...

  • Pvt. Devon Goldbourne, a student of the Fort Hood Air Assault class 05-14, looks straight ahead as his cousin Demetrius Pryor pins on his wings during the graduation ceremony, Feb. 13, 2014, at Sadowski Field on Fort Hood, Texas.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Pvt. Devon Goldbourne, a student of the Fort Hood Air Assault class 05-14, looks straight ahead as his cousin Demetrius Pryor pins on his wings during the graduation ceremony, Feb. 13, 2014, at Sadowski Field on Fort Hood, Texas.

  • Sgt. Anthony Eashman, (left) from San Francisco, and Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Stanton, from Midland, Texas, instructors at the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault School, demonstrate the proper way to rappel down the 50-foot tower, Feb. 12, 2014. The purpose of the school is to train students in air assault operations, sling-load operations and rappelling.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Sgt. Anthony Eashman, (left) from San Francisco, and Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Stanton, from Midland, Texas, instructors at the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault School, demonstrate the proper way to rappel down the 50-foot tower, Feb. 12, 2014. The purpose of...

  • Students of the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault class 05-14 practice going down the slant wall, Feb. 10, 2014, before tackling the 50-foot rappel tower.  The 10-day course is designed as a crawl, walk, run course, so students can grasp the material being taught.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Students of the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault class 05-14 practice going down the slant wall, Feb. 10, 2014, before tackling the 50-foot rappel tower. The 10-day course is designed as a crawl, walk, run course, so students can grasp the material being...

  • A student in the third phase of the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault School class 05-14, rappels down the 50-foot tower, Feb. 12, 2014. Rappelling down the tower is a part of the overall grade the students receive.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    A student in the third phase of the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault School class 05-14, rappels down the 50-foot tower, Feb. 12, 2014. Rappelling down the tower is a part of the overall grade the students receive.

  • Sgt. Jon Garcia (right), from Hattiesburg, Miss., instructs Sgt. Christopher Burgess, a student in the third phase of the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault School class 05-14, Feb. 12, 2014, on what lane to stay in during testing on repel operations. Attention to detail is important during the course to ensure safety at all times.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Sgt. Jon Garcia (right), from Hattiesburg, Miss., instructs Sgt. Christopher Burgess, a student in the third phase of the Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault School class 05-14, Feb. 12, 2014, on what lane to stay in during testing on repel operations...

  • Spc. Stephen Ramunno, a student of Fort Hood's Air Assault class 05-14, inspects an A22 cargo bag, Feb. 7, 2014, at Fort Hood, Texas, during the phase two test on sling load operations. Students are required to know how to rig loads to rotary wing aircraft and identify any deficiencies during testing.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Spc. Stephen Ramunno, a student of Fort Hood's Air Assault class 05-14, inspects an A22 cargo bag, Feb. 7, 2014, at Fort Hood, Texas, during the phase two test on sling load operations. Students are required to know how to rig loads to rotary wing...

  • Spc. Stephen Ramunno, a student of Fort Hood's Air Assault class 05-14, inspects a High Mobility Cargo Trailer during phase two of the course concerning sling load operations, Feb. 7, 2014, at Fort Hood, Texas. Air Assault School qualifies Soldiers to conduct air assault helicopter operations, to include aircraft orientation, sling load operations, proper rappelling techniques and fast-rope techniques.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Spc. Stephen Ramunno, a student of Fort Hood's Air Assault class 05-14, inspects a High Mobility Cargo Trailer during phase two of the course concerning sling load operations, Feb. 7, 2014, at Fort Hood, Texas. Air Assault School qualifies Soldiers to...

  • Sgt. 1st Class Jared Winegarden, a Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault instructor from Dyersburg, Tenn., teaches Sgt. John Moon, a student in class 05-14, the proper rappelling technique Feb. 10, 2014, during ground training. Students rappel off of a 50-foot tower to receive their badge.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Sgt. 1st Class Jared Winegarden, a Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault instructor from Dyersburg, Tenn., teaches Sgt. John Moon, a student in class 05-14, the proper rappelling technique Feb. 10, 2014, during ground training. Students rappel off of a 50-foot...

  • Sgt. 1st Class Jared Winegarden, a Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault instructor from Dyersburg, Tenn., teaches Sgt. John Moon, a student in class 05-14, the proper rappelling technique, Feb. 10, 2014, during ground training. Students rappel off of a 50-foot tower to receive their badge.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Sgt. 1st Class Jared Winegarden, a Fort Hood, Texas, Air Assault instructor from Dyersburg, Tenn., teaches Sgt. John Moon, a student in class 05-14, the proper rappelling technique, Feb. 10, 2014, during ground training. Students rappel off of a...

  • Students of the Fort Hood Air Assault School class 05-14 wait for cadre to pin on their wings after a 10-day, grueling training during the graduation ceremony held at Sadowski Field in front of the III Corps building at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 13, 2014. Students of the course where tested in all three phases: air mobile operations, sling load operations, rappelling operations.

    Air Assault: Training at the Great Place

    Students of the Fort Hood Air Assault School class 05-14 wait for cadre to pin on their wings after a 10-day, grueling training during the graduation ceremony held at Sadowski Field in front of the III Corps building at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 13, 2014...

FORT HOOD, Texas (Feb. 18, 201) - How do Soldiers train for and earn the coveted Army Air Assault badge? Enduring 10 days of fast-paced training may not seem so harsh to some, but under grueling weather conditions and long hours, trainees are pushed to their maximum potential -- physically and mentally.

Fort Hood, known locally as "The Great Place," is home to one of the Army's Air Assault schools. The school's primary task is qualifying Soldiers on air assault missions using rotary wing aircraft.

Soldiers undergo three phases of training.

During the first phase of training, known as the Combat Assault Phase, Soldiers learn orientation and aircraft operations like helicopter landing zones and markings, aero-medical evacuation procedures, and Pathfinder hand and arm signals. Before all that, Soldiers must complete a two-mile run and obstacle course, said Capt. Stephen S. Ruff, the commander of the Fort Hood Air Assault School and the Phantom Warrior Academy.

"When the students come to me, we [the instructors] are teaching the second phase of training ... sling load operations," said Sgt. 1st Class Jared K. Winegarden, the phase two team chief and a Dyersburg, Tenn., native. "A sling load is any cargo that we are physically attaching beneath a rotary wing aircraft."

Winegarden said the final phase of training deals with proper rappelling techniques, where students learn how to tie a conventional hip rappel seat in less than 90 seconds, perform several rappels from a 50-foot tower and rappel from a height of 85 feet from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter.

Being a part of the Air Assault School holds different meaning for the school's cadre.

"Being the commander of such a great school is awesome and a very unique experience," Ruff said. "I feel very blessed because I have an opportunity to command the hand-selected, top-notch cadre and the ability to work with a new batch of students each month; it's great."

"I enjoy teaching students each cycle," Winegarden said.

Not only do the cadre enjoy being a part of the Air Assault School, their hard work and dedication are reflected in the lessons learned by the students.

"The instructors did exceptionally well teaching the material," said Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas K. Spinks, a graduate of the course and first sergeant of Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, from Meridian, Miss. "I've been to various schools throughout my military career, and the instructors here have been the most professional instructors I have ever had."

Spinks said the instructors were meticulous in making sure students are paying attention to the blocks of instruction, because attention to detail is important when dealing with heights and heavy loads under aircraft.

On graduation day, students must complete a 12-mile foot march with a full combat load and weapon in less than three hours, to be awarded air assault wings. Students who have completed all of the other training successfully, but fail the foot march, do not graduate.

"This course was very challenging, but now I feel like I can lead by example and motivate my Soldiers to go through this course," Spinks said.

"To see the trials and tribulations that each Soldier goes through is truly amazing. we remind the students not to give up," Ruff said.

Page last updated Tue February 18th, 2014 at 00:00