• Redding, Calif., native Chief Warrant Officer Cliff Mead, the aviation maintenance officer for 2nd "Lobo" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, ground guides an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter to its parking spot at Kuwait Naval Base after it's flight from Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Dec. 11. Once the pilots park the aircraft and shut its engines off, the Soldiers working the port immediately begin taking the blades off so it will be ready to be loaded onto a ship headed home. The troopers will work through Christmas loading the aircraft. "

    Redding, Calif., native Chief Warrant Officer...

    Redding, Calif., native Chief Warrant Officer Cliff Mead, the aviation maintenance officer for 2nd "Lobo" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, ground guides an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter to its parking...

  • L3 Vertex personnel crawl all over a 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter at Kuwait Naval Base, Dec. 11. L3 supplements the Soldiers working at the port to ready aircraft for loading onto a ship headed to the United States, said New York native Sgt. Carlos Llaverias, an Apache crew chief for Company C, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div. The troopers working at the port are mainly Apache crew chiefs and mechanics, so L3 works primarily on the Black Hawks and Chinooks that come in, he said. "

    L3 Vertex personnel crawl all over a 1st Air...

    L3 Vertex personnel crawl all over a 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter at Kuwait Naval Base, Dec. 11. L3 supplements the Soldiers working at the port to ready aircraft for loading onto a ship headed to the...

  • Hickory, N.C., native Pfc. Bounphat Phothichack (right), an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter mechanic for Company D, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, hand signals to a crane operator (not shown) while Miami native Spc. Jake Horwood, an Apache crew chief for Co. C, 1-227th, gets ready to shake the blade loose during port operations at Kuwait Naval Base, Dec. 11. After removing the blades, they are placed in a box where customs officials will inspect them before they are sealed. These helos will be loaded up on a ship headed of the United States well after Christmas. "

    Hickory, N.C., native Pfc. Bounphat Phothichack...

    Hickory, N.C., native Pfc. Bounphat Phothichack (right), an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter mechanic for Company D, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, hand signals to a crane operator (not...

  • Westerly, R.I., native Spc. Anthony Agney, an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter crew chief for Company C, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, guides a small crane, with an attachment to hold helo blades, towards an Apache blade during port operations at Kuwait Naval Base, Dec. 11. The Soldiers working the port operations will take off the blades to the Apaches so they will better fit on the ship headed back to the United States, said Hayward, Calif., native Spc. Garret Towne an Apache crew chief for Co. C. The Apaches are flown down to the port after they have been taken apart and cleaned thoroughly at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "

    Westerly, R.I., native Spc. Anthony Agney, an...

    Westerly, R.I., native Spc. Anthony Agney, an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter crew chief for Company C, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, guides a small crane, with an attachment to hold...

  • Westerly, R.I., native Spc. Anthony Agney (right), an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter crew chief for Company C, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, guides a small crane, with an attachment to hold helo blades, towards an Apache blade during port operations at Kuwait Naval Base, Dec. 11. The Soldiers working the port operations will take off the blades to the Apaches so they will better fit on the ship headed back to the United States, said Hayward, Calif., native Spc. Garret Towne an Apache crew chief for Co. C. The Apaches are flown down to the port after they have been taken apart and cleaned thoroughly at Camp Buehring, Kuwait. "

    Westerly, R.I., native Spc. Anthony Agney...

    Westerly, R.I., native Spc. Anthony Agney (right), an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter crew chief for Company C, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, guides a small crane, with an attachment to...

  • Redding, Calif., native Chief Warrant Officer Cliff Mead, the aviation maintenance officer for 2nd "Lobo" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, guides an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter in to the port at Kuwait Naval Base after it's flight from Camp Buehring, Kuwait, Dec. 11. Once the pilots park the aircraft and shut its engines off, the Soldiers working the port immediately begin taking the blades off so it will be ready to be loaded onto a ship headed home."

    Redding, Calif., native Chief Warrant Officer...

    Redding, Calif., native Chief Warrant Officer Cliff Mead, the aviation maintenance officer for 2nd "Lobo" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, guides an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter in to the port at...

CAMP VIRGINIA, Kuwait - There are some Soldiers from 1st Air Cavalry "Warrior" Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, who will be headed home in time for Christmas.

But there are some Warriors that will stay behind to take on the daunting task of preparing helicopters to sail off to sea - something aircraft aren't supposed to do.

Well, that isn't the whole truth.

Actually, they'll be prepping the helos for safe travel aboard a ship docked at Kuwait Naval Base located along the Persian Gulf.

For Hayward, Calif., native Spc. Garret Towne, an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter crew chief for Company C, 1st "Attack" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, 1st Cav. Div., this mission signals the end of operations in the Middle East for his unit.

"We're wrapping up the whole tour (for 1-227th). Most of the main body has already returned to Fort Hood and we're just out here making sure the birds get on the ships," said Towne.

Town and his fellow Soldiers are at the port primarily to disassemble the blades from the Apaches before loading them up on to the ship, he said.

"(The ship) is just a really tight fit, so the blades have to come off - they want the birds as small as possible," said Towne.

Fortunately for the port crew, not all of the helos will have to be loaded onto the ships; some of them were already flown back to the states on an Air Force C-5 cargo plane, said New York native Sgt. Carlos Llaverias, an Apache crew chief for Co. B, 1-227th.

Because the port crew is mainly from an attack battalion, they rely on the help of L3 Vertex, a contractor company, to take care of the UH-60 Black Hawks and CH-47 Chinooks that need to be disassembled and loaded, said Llaverias.

Along with taking the blades off the aircraft, the Soldiers also have to help ground guide them onto the ship on a day that most people will be taking off, Llaverias said.

"Christmas for us is going to be pretty busy because we've got to load all these aircraft and it's a long process," he said. "It's like we're wrapping 30 million dollar presents."

Even though he'll miss the holidays and get home last - he's riding with the cargo on the ship - Llaverias isn't in a hurry to get home, he said.

"I'm not really in a rush to get back (home), that's why I volunteered to (work the port)," said Llaverias. "My wife is in Afghanistan so she won't be home for another four months."

But, for Llaverias, the Persian Gulf offers a quiet refuge from the hustle and bustle of the high-paced operational tempo in Iraq, he said.

"It's nice out here. It's close to the water - you get to see more than just Camp Taji (Iraq)," he said.

The Soldiers may miss the holidays, but they feel it's a necessary part of the mission. And their resolve to complete that mission is evident in their attitudes.

"What we're doing is important; it's the only way we're going to get these birds back," said Llaverias. "I felt like I made a contribution to the mission. I came to work everyday ready for work."

After the port mission is complete, Llaverias will set off into the sunset like the end of an old western.

Except in this case he won't be ridding - he'll be sailing.

Page last updated Fri December 14th, 2007 at 18:21