By Pfc. Jamal WalkerJune 24, 2009
CAMP MOBILE SOUTH KOREA - Soldiers from C Company, 304th Signal Battalion, 1st Signal Brigade, conducted sling load operations June 16 at the Camp Mobile airfield. The mission involved setting up and moving two Humvee vehicles with CH-47 Chinook helicopters to USAG-Humphreys.
The mission was conducted to have Soldiers "learn how to perform sling load operations for transporting our vehicles," said Pvt. Michael Beall, C Company 304th Signal Battalion air conditioner mechanic.
"This activity is to develop and polish our technique," said Lt. Col. Alfred Francis, 304th Signal Battalion commander, "This exercise ensures Soldiers are equipped to move our equipment from one location to the other, and install a communication network that supports the mission."
"They secure the perimeters, then release equipment and continue with the mission," Francis continued. "This is what we are doing today. The only difference is we are not in a hostile environment."
C Company brought two of their Humvees to the airfield and prepared them for airlift. Soldiers removed hazardous objects; and secured the vehicle from top to bottom.
The reason for securing Humvees is to prevent rotor wash from blowing hazardous debris in the air during operations. Rotor wash, as C Company 304th Company Commander Cpt. Jonathan Swan describes, is the wind that flies under the Chinooks while hovering.
"It's like being in a hurricane, the rotor wash makes you feel light," said Staff Sgt. James Green, non commissioned officer in charge of sling load operations. "The first time I did a sling load I was 190 pounds, and we used night vision goggles. With the goggles, it was hard to find the hook, but it was fun, and a good experience."
Green spoke of how his experience in the sling load operation contrasted to what he was used to in the past.
"I have always done this mission as a lower enlisted Soldier," Green said. "As an NCO, those Soldiers depend on me to guide them and show them what to do."
"This exercise teaches our Soldiers what air assault is all about," Francis said. "Air assault is not just repelling out of an aircraft; it includes moving equipment. This teaches Soldiers what is required for an air assault mission, and gives them the experience they need."
Although Green and Swan warned Soldiers about rotor wash, no one was ready when the Chinooks approached. Soldiers turned their backs against the wind as debris flew around them.
Knowing the mission, "Charlie Rock" Soldiers stood tall and motivated each other to link up the Humvees to the Chinooks and fly them to USAG-Humphrey's, where A Company 304th waited to detach the vehicles.
"I am not going to say this experience was different," Green said "If you are motivated, you can accomplish the mission."
Francis hopes the 304th will be able to transport equipment to a certain location and set it up. Sling load operations will be more challenging when operating against the clock, he explained.
"I think all units need to go through a mission like this," Green said. "When deployed there will be times you and the unit need to come together as a team and get the mission done; personal courage comes in to play in a big way out there and everyone's job is equally important."