STEFANOVIKEIO, Greece — Air superiority and mobility is one of the cornerstones of today’s modern fighting force.
Over the years, U.S. Army leaders have worked tirelessly to ensure that our Soldiers have the best aircraft available such as helicopters like the CH-47 Chinook. It allows roughly a platoon sized element to board or disembark in a secure area as needed.
Regardless of its speed and carrying capabilities, the CH-47 is still a machine, and behind every great machine there is a great flight engineer. Someone like U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Kevin Pagan.
Pagan, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 214th Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, also known as "Big Windy," has been part of the air crew for the last four years. He has learned the value of camaraderie when it comes to safety while working with his Big Windy family.
Pagan, along with his unit, participated in the DEFENDER 23 exercise Swift Response 23, which featured the Spanish Airborne Brigade replicating a division leading three separate Joint Forcible Entry airborne operations in the Baltic Sea and Mediterranean regions.
“As a crew member you treat each other as brothers … family. It makes it safer,” said Pagan. You’re able to communicate better on the aircraft without the stress of formalities.”
Competence and safety is paramount inside the aircraft and out. As a flight engineer, one small mistake — for example leaving a tool on the aircraft — can cause damage and make the aircraft non-mission capable. Attention to detail is key.
“These things have over 80 major components that we have to keep functional,” said Pagan. “That means we really have to pay attention to what we are doing to make sure she stays in the air.”
A flight engineer is a subject matter expert on all the systems in the aircraft and their limitations. Pagan is responsible for everything behind the cockpit as well as supervising and mentoring other crew members. A task he thoroughly enjoys.
“You have to get to know people on a personal level. We create a positive work environment not only when we’re flying but when we’re doing maintenance too,” he said. “You have to know that I have your back and you have mine. When everyone works as a team and everyone’s on the same page it’s amazing what we can do.”
As always, no one in the Army stands alone, and wars are won with cohesive teams working together to ensure the best possible outcomes. Pagan continues to strive and search for new ways to excel and mentor his Soldiers in their career field.
“These exercises [Swift Response 23], while they have some long days, really help give the team some perspective into what we do downrange,” said Pagan. “It helps them see why our job is integral in helping win the fight.”
For more information on careers in Army aviation, visit GoArmy.com.
Learn more about DEFENDER 23