FORT HOOD, Texas - “It’s fun putting a plan together from an idea through execution and actually seeing it happen,” said Air Force Capt. Nick Evangelista, an Air Force liaison at Fort Hood, Texas, Feb. 24.
Soldiers from D Company, 3-227th Aviation Regiment came together with Airmen from the 621 Mobility Support Operations Squadron and 22 Airlift Squadron to make a training plan a reality following a devastating February 2021 ice storm that left many Texans without power or water.
“It pushed our timeline back a little,” said Evangelista with a laugh. He went on to say that despite the challenging weather, he was impressed by the efficiency of his Army counterparts. “We had everything in place logistically other than getting rid of the ice, which the 60 degree Texas weather took care of for us anyway.”
The joint Army-Air Force training exercise saw Army UH-60 helicopter repairers folding the blades of a UH-60 Black Hawk Helicopter into a storage position in order to practice storing the four-blade helicopter on a Lockheed C-5 Galaxy Cargo Aircraft. The 380,000 pound transport aircraft can hold up to 5 Blackhawks in its hold.
“A C-5 isn’t something you see everyday. It’s such a large airplane and can carry multiple helicopters at once. It’s pretty impressive," said Evangelista.
Evangelista went on to explain that the EAGLEs or, Expeditionary Air Liaison Ground Elements work as loadmasters; port personnel with extensive experience dealing with cargo loads that assist in teaching practical and hands on knowledge. The EAGLEs were on hand to provide training opportunities with Army personnel.
“They make the whole process more efficient and effective at the same time,” said Evangelista.
“It’s been fun working with the Army. Everyone is really awesome,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Christine Lopez, one of the EAGLE members.
“It’s so important for these units to get this training. The next time this might be the real world, so they’ll be able to take this training and apply it to that next movement,” said Lopez. “That way when their cargo is getting inspected by joint inspectors this process can be smooth and won’t have any issues in moving to their next stations.”
“Getting to do this with the Air Force is great, they’re phenomenal,” said Sgt. Bryan Battaglia an Army UH-60 Blackhawk Repairer. He added, “I’d say they’re pretty good partners overall. We don’t get to do stuff like this very often, so this is good for the soldiers."
Battaglia said that practicing skills in a real time environment with joint cooperation allows for what he calls ‘organized chaos’.
“When we do stuff like this there’s so much going on, it’s easy for a person to freeze up. A lot of people will freeze up in a real life situation like this because it’s just so extensive. Once you get to see it and do it in real time you’ll be able to focus and care about safety.”
Battaglia said that safety is his primary concern for his soldiers and that the more practice his team got the safer they would be in the future.
The training was slated for three days, beginning the 23rd of February and ending on the 25th.
Pvt. 1st Class Jacob Del Castillo, a UH-60 Blackhawk Repairer said that it was some of the best training he had participated in so far in his Army career.
“The Air Force has been very nice to us and very informative,” said Del Castillo. He continued by remarking how he was happy to have a chance to train with a tangible, real world challenge. He also said that the difficult training would only make his organization more ready to face challenges in the future.
“This is significant to the Army because it shows that when the time comes we’re not going to fall behind, we’re battle ready. We really know what we’re doing,” said Del Castillo.