Virginia National Guard Soldiers Conduct Air Assault Drill

By Spc. Rhita Daniel, Virginia National Guard Public AffairsMay 1, 2024

Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Charlottesville-based Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct cold load training with aviation crews assigned to the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division April 5, 2024, at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave, Virginia.
Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Charlottesville-based Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team conduct cold load training with aviation crews assigned to the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division April 5, 2024, at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave, Virginia.
(Photo Credit: Spc. Rhita Daniel)
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WEYERS CAVE, Va. - Virginia National Guard Soldiers with Alpha Company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, conducted aviation training with crews with the 2nd Battalion, 224th Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, April 5 at Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport.

After conducting classes on how to properly load and exit the aircraft, the Soldiers flew to Fort Walker, where they conducted tactical operations at a landing zone and squad situational training lanes through the rest of their drill weekend.

“We want to give our air crews some proficiency training in multi-ship and just exposure to the units that we support,” said 1st Lt. Grayson Taylor with 2nd Battalion.

“We are practicing conducting air assault operations, which is part of our MET, our Mission Essential Task,” explained Capt. Tim Vaught, commander of Alpha Company. He said the ongoing training is preparing the 3rd Battalion for annual training in Czechia later this year.

Family members of Alpha Company Soldiers were invited to the training to witness the demanding training Soldiers undergo during drill weekend.

“We wanted to take this opportunity to invite them and let them see what their Soldiers do during an IDT or drill weekend,” said Vaught. “So, we have transparency, not just with the Soldiers, but with their families as well.”

First Sgt. Wesley Runion, Alpha Company’s first sergeant, said he invited his family because of his approaching retirement after 20 years of service.

“You know, I really love to get the family involved, and it’s sort of tough to do inherently,” said Runion. “We are in austere environments when we’re training as infantrymen, so there’s not a lot of opportunity for our families to observe our training.”

He said it was one of the first drill weekends he worked with aviation and got in a Black Hawk helicopter.

Runion’s wife, Brooke, said that her husband’s approaching retirement made this opportunity even more special for her and their children.

“We were excited because we have this whole other life that is the military that we really don’t get to see any part of,” she said. “So, it’s really great when we get to take part and to see anything that he gets to do. And riding in a helicopter is just kind of cool.”

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