SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador - Aviation soldiers from various units around the Army have come here under the umbrella of Task Force Northstar to provide casualty evacuation (CASEVAC), aerial reconnaissance and troop transport support for this year's Beyond the Horizon (BTH) mission.
Beyond the Horizon is a U.S. Southern Command sponsored, U.S. Army South planned and led annual humanitarian and civic assistance exercise that is providing construction and medical assistance to the people living in rural and underprivileged areas here.
"Our job is to support the ground troops," said 1st Lt. Joshua Tauer, a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot for 2nd Battalion 149th Aviation Regiment out of San Antonio. "Whether it is lift, CASEVAC or transporting troops, aviation is a broad spectrum mission."
In the case of this year's BTH exercise, one of the main missions for aviation soldiers is the CASEVAC. The speed at which a flight can pick up an injured soldier and get them to medical care before their situation turns dire, is far superior to that of any other vehicle here that transports patients. With the ability to fly over traffic and mountains, patients can typically get from the site of injury to the hospital in a manner of minutes, giving doctors critical time to treat them.
"It's a significant difference," said Maj. Jose Reyes, commander of C Company, 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation Regiment out of San Antonio. "Just imagine if you have to travel by ground to a place and it takes you an hour to get there, with aviation it takes less than half that time.
At the end of the day, service members coming to BTH get training and experience working in their field with military personnel from other services and countries. They will provide medical care to under served areas and their efforts will help improve the local infrastructure.
"I think it's awesome," said Sgt. Chris Renaud, a UH-60 Black Hawk crew chief for the 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment out of San Antonio. "I like how we all are here to work as a team and can get out there and support the local nationals by building their schools and providing medical support with Task Force Northstar. We all came from different parts of the United States to come together and help these people."