PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - For the first time in its five year history, the Army Reserve Medical Command (AR-MEDCOM) had one of its Soldiers graduate from Army Pathfinder School.
Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler, squad leader and medical logistics sergeant with the 4225th U.S. Army Hospital in Helena, Mont., completed the course's three intensive weeks of training to earn the right to wear the Pathfinder's torch badge.A Pathfinder is a paratrooper who is inserted or dropped into place in order to set up and operate drop zones, pickup zones, and helicopter landing sites for airborne operations, air resupply operations, or other air operations in support of the ground unit commander. They use a wide array of skills including air traffic control, ground-to-air communications, sling load operations and inspections, and drop zone and helicopter landing zone support in order to ensure the mission is a success.Butler, the 2009 AR-MEDCOM Soldier of the Year, deployed to Qatar, Iraq, Afghanistan and Djibouti in 2006-2007, where he worked to ensure combat units remained stocked with vital medical supplies. He is using his new skills to plan integrated training for Battle Training Assemblies with the 1/189th Aviation Battalion of the Montana National Guard."The skills a Pathfinder maintains have a priceless application to today's operating environment, both in training and overseas," said Butler. "I hope more Soldiers from AR-MEDCOM will be able to attend Pathfinder school in the future."After the challenges of last year's Soldier of the Year competition, Butler wanted to push himself farther."The Best Warrior Competition was an amazing opportunity and an honor, and it showed me what a little dedication can bring out of you, both physically and mentally," he said. "I took on Pathfinder school as another opportunity to challenge myself once again."In his civilian occupation, Butler is a rancher on KG Ranch in Three Forks, Mont.