CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE MAREZ, Iraq (Army News Service, July 14) Aca,!" Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a very dangerous job. On top of your regular job stress, you have a 16,000-pound piece of metal which could fall out of the sky at any time. And then, youAca,!a,,cre flying around a place where people could shoot you out of the sky.Aca,!A?

That, according to Spc. Tony Moreno, a member of the Aca,!A"BlackjacksAca,!A? of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade, operationally attached to the 2nd Battalion, 159th Attack Readiness Brigade, is only part of what a crew chief endures.

A crew chief carries an immense amount of responsibility, ranging from maintenance and daily inspections, to assisting the pilots in maneuvering the aircraft, providing security, and loading and unloading passengers.

The unit, based out of Wheeler Army Air Field in Oahu, Hawaii, is currently deployed to Mosul, Iraq, where its 20 enlisted Soldiers and officers are responsible for air transport, direct support and general support missions for the 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

Despite the long hours, endless paperwork and daily repetition, Spc. Moreno describes being a crew chief as Aca,!A"an awesome job.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"You have to fill out a ton of reports, the mission changes on an hourly basis and itAca,!a,,cs pretty hard work at times. But for the most part, itAca,!a,,cs pretty rewarding,Aca,!A? he said.
Specialist MorenoAca,!a,,cs day begins bright and early as he begins work on the pre-flight log three hours prior to flight time. A part of the Aca,!A"pre-flight of the pre-flight,Aca,!A? the log book tracks faults, hours flown and inspections.

Once the log book is completed, itAca,!a,,cs time to load up the considerable amount of gear needed for the missionAca,!"equipment ranging from helmets, goggles and protective equipment to coolers and weapons.

Next begins the actual helicopter inspection. Crew chiefs, Spc. Moreno and Sgt. Fred Oser spend quality time with the aircraft, ensuring everything is fully functional. These pre-flight checks are part of a daily ritual, with the Soldiers following specific guidelines which emerge into a well-practiced pattern.

After everything is opened and theyAca,!a,,cve completed their examination, itAca,!a,,cs the pilotsAca,!a,,c turn.

Aca,!A"You want to have as many eyes as you can look over the bird. You canAca,!a,,ct pull over onto the side of the road if you have an issue, so itAca,!a,,cs good to find the problems before the rotors turn,Aca,!A? said Spc. Moreno

Information is then shared in the crew brief, providing insight into the dayAca,!a,,cs mission, aircraft limitations and search and rescue data before going over worst-case scenarios.
Whatever time remains belongs to the crew as they get ready for the flight.

Aca,!A"ItAca,!a,,cs a nice, quiet moment before the blades start turning; people are talking and things get loud,Aca,!A? said Spc. Moreno, who makes the most of this opportunity to hang out, listen to music or swing by the post exchange for snacks.

The aircraft is then fired up for its final checks. The crew chiefs assist by confirming thereAca,!a,,cs movement on the collective lever, the rotors are pitched and the engines are running properly.

Aca,!A"From the warrant officers to the entire crew, thereAca,!a,,cs no one guy in charge. ItAca,!a,,cs a team effort, with everyone working together to ensure the helicopter lifts off and sets down safely,Aca,!A? Spc. Mareno said.

Chief Warrant Officer Dan Hansen said the Hawaii-based unit has the best crew chiefs, and the pilots wouldnAca,!a,,ct be able to do their job without them.

Aca,!A"Most of our crew chiefs exhibit trademark traits Aca,!" theyAca,!a,,cre self-starters. TheyAca,!a,,cre very motivated and they have to work independently. TheyAca,!a,,cre trustworthy and their maintenance requirements are done exactly a certain way. The way we operate, if we donAca,!a,,ct have people looking for a mistake, it could cost several people their lives.

Aca,!A"When weAca,!a,,cre up front, our field of reference is what we see. Our situational awareness and everything having to do with our passengers depends on them once we land and take off. When it comes to obstacle clearance, you donAca,!a,,ct question what they say, you react,Aca,!A? Hansen said.

According to one pilot, Chief Warrant Officer Matt Lamoreaux, they are a close-knit group of people who have to be able to work with different groups every day.

Aca,!A"They have to know how each pilot wants their aircraft set up, so they have to know each pilotAca,!a,,cs idiosyncrasies. The crew chiefs have their official guidelines, but we have our own pet peeves and they meet it without missing a beat.

Aca,!A"TheyAca,!a,,cre definitely professional,Aca,!A? Lamoreaux continued. Aca,!A"They take a lot of slack from us, but theyAca,!a,,cre definitely what make this bird run. Crew chiefs not only service us, but they have to adapt to their customers as well. They have to be very flexible, with everything they deal with.

Aca,!A"TheyAca,!a,,cre enlisted Soldiers sitting right next to Iraqi and American generals and theyAca,!a,,cre constantly under the microscope. They maintain their professionalism at all times and represent us very well,Aca,!A? added Lamoreaux.

(Master Sgt. Duff E. McFadden writes for 2nd HBCT Public Affairs)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16