By Jim Hughes, Fort Rucker Public AffairsSeptember 6, 2019
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- When U.S. Army North Task Force 51 called in the cavalry to help with its mission to provide assistance to communities impacted by Hurricane Dorian, Fort Rucker stepped up to lend a helping hand.
Soldiers and aircraft from the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade began deploying to Fort Rucker from their home at Fort Hood, Texas, on Labor Day as part of U.S. Army North Task Force 51's mission of providing assisting with hurricane relief operations.
Using the Home of Army Aviation as a stopping point to prepare to move closer to the impacted communities, the 2-227th Avn. Regt. found "world class support," said the unit commander, Lt. Col. Jason Raub.
"We couldn't have hand selected a better base support installation to kind of stop, regain posture and get into the fight," the commander added.
The Fort Rucker team took on the added mission in stride, coming together to provide that world class support, according to Sean Sparks, Fort Rucker Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security director.
"That's the standard we go by for a mission suite like that, supporting a deployed unit," he said. "It's been a total team effort. All the units on post have pulled together to provide the required support as needed, and everyone's treated (the 2-227th Avn. Regt.) as a priority on every issue."
Fort Rucker's support came in many shapes and sizes, and adapted seamlessly to a mission that began to change from the get-go, according to Mikael Ash, U.S. Aviation Center of Excellence chief of the G3 Training Management Oversight Division who coordinated USAACE's part in supporting the unit.
"Between USAACE and the garrison, along with the Aviation Center Logistics Command and Logistics Readiness Center, we gave them a place to bed down their aircraft, gave them maintenance support, and provided refueling, transportation, billeting, food, and, in the last couple of days, started providing training because now their mission has shifted to over water for missions in support of the Bahamas," Ash said.
That training included: water survival, conducted by the U.S. Army School of Aviation Medicine at Flynn Pool; aviator life support equipment; and simulator time in the CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk systems for aircrews who will be flying over water, and also UH-72 Lakota simulator time, because even though the unit doesn't fly the Lakota, that database includes the Bahamas, where some aircrews will be flying, he added.
"Everyone has been really helpful -- a total team effort," Ash said. "Everyone's rowing in same direction. We've not asked for any support that hasn't been immediately granted or where people didn't bend over backwards to do it."
And that's really helped the 2-227th Soldiers focus on their mission, according to CW4 Peter Jesse, battalion standardization officer.
"They tell you 'welcome home,' when you drive through the gate, and it really feels like home because of the level of support they've given us," he said. "Everyone we've come into contact with has gone above and beyond in supporting us, and allowed us to continue training and enhancing our capabilities. It's just been outstanding."