CAMP RIPLEY, Minn., - The steady thump of helicopter blades shakes the air as a CH-47 Chinook idles on the Camp Ripley Training Center, Minnesota, airfield. It awaits the civilian employers of several Iowa Army National Guard (IANG) Soldiers to board for a Bosslift flight. The Soldiers are participating in a 21-day eXportable Combat Training Capability (XCTC) rotation, where they are training in dynamic and challenging scenarios, day and night operations and live-fire exercises specific to the combat and domestic missions of each unit.
The Bosslift is an initiative of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) program.
Wind from the rotors batters the men and women as they walk up the ramp into the passenger hold of the aircraft. The flight engineers pace the center aisle and make sure everyone is strapped in. A thumbs-up indicates everyone is ready to go. The helicopter rolls away from the control tower. A few moments later, the blades speed up and it's liftoff.
Passengers strain their necks to look out the cargo hold's windows as the ground falls away. The noise drowns out excited conversation.
After landing in a grassy field surrounded by trees, the bosses meet up with Capt. Christian Albrecht, commander of Company A, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, IANG, who gives them a tour of his company's command post. Albrecht explains troop movements and what the IANG is accomplishing during its XCTC rotation.
Finally, the bosses climb back aboard the Chinook and return to the airfield.
"That was a bucket list for me," Matthew Geraghty said.
Geraghty is the Senior Engineering Manager at Collins Aerospace who had the opportunity to ride with the pilots for the first leg of the flight. "It was amazing," he said.
Geraghty traveled to Camp Ripley on the ESGR Bosslift to support 1st Lt. David Delayo a Platoon Leader with Battery A, 1st Battalion, 194th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, IANG.
ESGR is designed to show employers what it's like for the Soldiers who work for them when they leave for military training. The Bosslift performs two functions. First, it serves as a thank you to the employers for supporting what their employees are doing for the state of Iowa. Additionally, seeing the men and women they employ in action helps them understand what it means to be a Soldier.
"I've always been impressed by what the National Guard does," Lee Burras, a professor at Iowa State University, said. "I've always been curious about the details. So this is a great opportunity. It's one thing to read about what goes on in a military operation. It's another thing to see where the progression is and understand how orders are transmitted."