Aircraft recovery team trains on chop saw
August 3, 2009
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - The early morning stillness is broken by the growl of a chainsaw-like engine and the screech of tearing iron.
The growl belonged to a gas operated chop saw, the training focus for the Downed Aircraft Recovery Team of the 615th Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division - Baghdad, July 30, on the outskirts of the Camp Taji airfield.
"Our purpose today is to help the team members be more confident using the chop saw," said Staff Sgt. Jeremy McNichol, of Lockeford, Calif., a technical inspector with B Company, 615th ASB, and the noncommissioned officer in charge of the DART team.
Pvt. Joshua Tomkins, from Enterprise, Ala., a member of the DART team, said the focus is to recover a downed aircraft.
"We call a downed aircraft a fallen angel," said Tompkins. "A fallen angel is outside the T-barriers or outside the wire. There has to be a specified team to go out and recover the aircraft."
"The important thing today is for us all to know how to use the equipment," he added.
Spc. Rebecca Evans, from Dorrance, Penn., an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter mechanic, said she attended the training to learn how to use a chop saw in the event of a DART mission.
"I could feel the heat from the sparks through my ACU's (Army Combat Uniform)," Evans said of her initial experience with the chop saw. "At first it's just metal grinding on metal. Then after the first cut it's like a hot knife through butter."
Evans said it is vital she and the rest of the DART team know how to operate the machinery.
"We need to know what we are doing in case we have to chop-up an aircraft -[in case] we need to get it back on base," Evans said.
The training is something Evans said she hopes she never has to put to practical use.
"It means something bad has happened, but it may be the only way to get to an aircraft back," Evans explained. "Then we would have to use what we learned today."
McNichol said he was pleased with the outcome of the training.
"The training could not have gone any better. Everybody got the opportunity to use the equipment," McNichol said. "All my goals were met today. If my Soldiers are called out on a DART mission they all could operate the equipment safely."