By Capt. James Loy, 642nd Aviation Support BattalionJuly 25, 2014
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (July 25, 2014) -- New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 642d Aviation Support Battalion, conducted integration Annual Training in support of their fellow New York Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Battalion, here Saturday through Tuesday.
As the infantry Soldiers from 2nd Platoon, Company C, 2-108th, based in Gloversville, New York, conducted squad movement to contact in preparation for a squad attach during a live fire, aircrews from the Rochester-based Company F, 1st Battalion, 169th Air Ambulance Company, conducted pre-flight checks for their impending aeromedical evacuation of simulated casualties.
Company F is part of the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion. The battalion is currently deployed to Kuwait, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, but the unit rear detachment is at Fort Drum this summer, conducting annual training that includes common Soldier Tasks, Mission Essential Tasks, individual weapons qualification, and aerial gunnery, as well as the recent MedEvac training that supported the 2-108th Infantry.
The training for Company F included working with the infantry to prepare a landing zone, and then conducting static training and instruction for the infantry Soldiers. Troops reviewed flight procedures, conducted basic medical task training, reviewed the Nine-Line MedEvac request, practiced aircraft loading procedures and evacuation training for litter patients. They also learned how to use the jungle penetrator to recover patients in heavily wooded areas.
As the MedEvac aircrew departed to fly tactical routes across the training area, 1st Lt. Patrick Halpin, the Company C executive officer, and Sgt. Greg Marcott, the non-commissioned officer in charge, organized the squads to receive the aircraft for MedEvac.
"This was a great, realistic training event that included Mission Essential Task training for both the infantry and aviation units," said Capt. Shawn Tabankin, the 2-108th Infantry Battalion operations officer. "The infantry were able to work a live MedEvac [helicopter] into their event, utilizing their Pathfinder training to establish [a landing zone]."
As part of the training preparation, Company F Flight Medic Spc. Muhammed Shonibare joined with the infantry platoon medic Spc. Joseph Sabin, to help evaluate casualties and ready them for evacuation.
Sabin relayed the information to his team leader, Sgt. Richard Wager, who called in the Nine-Line MedEvac request to the aircraft. Within minutes, the UH-60 Black Hawk was on the landing zone, and Soldiers were moving litters on board the aircraft.
After completion of the litter evacuations, the infantrymen moved to the dense wood line and set up a hasty patrol base to then conduct medical evacuation, using a jungle penetrator.
While pilots hovered steadily over the tree line, a flight medic descended into the training area to retrieve a simulated casualty. Once on ground, the flight medic loaded the patient on the jungle penetrator for extraction, straight up to the hovering aircraft.
The integrated training proved to be a success for all elements involved, both in the air and on the ground.
"When we are able to conduct Aeromedical Evacuations with our pilots receiving and responding to actual Nine-Lines, combined with our flight medics conducting actual medical tasks & extractions, it is great training," said 1-169th Company F Commander Maj. Christopher Gagliardo.
"On the aviation side of the house, they were able to receive and process Nine-Lines, amended Nine-Lines, and perform the necessary Air-to-Ground integration," Tabankin said. "There's no simulation that can replace this kind of combined-arms experience."