FORT POLK, La. — Soldiers with the 41st Transportation Company, 519th Military Police Battalion, 16th Military Police Brigade, spent July 2 on the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk’s Honor Field learning the ropes of sling load operations on UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.Pilots and crewmembers with Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Aviation Regiment provided the aircraft and contributed to the training of the day’s activities.Staff Sgt. Eric Depaula, a sling load certifier with 41st Trans Co, said having sling load capabilities is important for a unit where the primary mission is to move equipment.“We can sling load a HMMWV (high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle) to a location and not have to drive it,” Depaula said. “That saves manpower and Soldier fatigue.”Depaula who, with Staff Sgt. Dangelo Vasquez, led the training effort said 15 Soldiers received training.“Once these Soldiers completed the class they were qualified to sling load at the unit level,” he said. “We plan on conducting this training every quarter.”Vasquez said with today’s highly mobile Army, sling load operations have become more important.“There is a lot of equipment that can be moved by sling load,” Vasquez said. “And it’s much quicker to move something by air than to drive it.”The sling load training is also used as an incentive, Vasquez said.“We’re all truck drivers so to be able to get out here and train with and ride on helicopters, it shows the Soldiers a different side of the Army,” he said. “It gets them excited and trained up.”Capt. Ellen Johnson, commander, 41st Trans Co, said the training allows non-commissioned officers in the unit with air assault and sling load operations skills to share their expertise with younger Soldiers.“It empowers our NCOs who have the skills and capability to coach and train our Soldiers,” she said. “Not only does it keep them proficient in that skillset which can diminish rapidly if not used, it also allows them to pass on their knowledge.”That, in turn, makes the 41st Trans Co more of an asset to JRTC, she said.“We support every rotation, and this increases our ability to do the job,” Johnson said. “Also, these Soldiers will eventually move on to other units. Not only does it make our unit more proficient, it makes our Soldiers and NCOs more proficient and more of an asset across the Army.”Johnson agreed with Vasquez’s assessment on the “fun” part of the training.“Not only do we want to train to become proficient, but it also breaks the monotony,” she said. “It gets them out of the motor pool, away from ground vehicles, and allows them to work with helicopters. I don’t think there’s a Soldier in the Army who doesn’t like to work with the birds. It’s a morale booster. Some of these Soldiers may have only seen pictures of a helicopter or one fly overhead; but to see one up close and hook a piece of your own equipment up to that bird, there is nothing like it.”Johnson said for her Soldiers to get the adrenaline rush from working with helicopters makes the training a pleasure instead of a chore.“To hear them say ‘this is cool,’ or ‘this is fun,’ you don’t hear that often, so getting that emotion out of them is nice,” she said. “There is nothing like leaving the motor pool for a field-based environment and doing something Army.”