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Story by: Sgt. Michael K. Selvage - 10th Mountain Division
Dated: Thu, Aug 22, 2013
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- A protective service detail made up of 12 Soldiers assigned to 91st Military Police Battalion conducted a joint training exercise Aug. 19 with National Guardsmen assigned to B Company, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment (Assault Helicopter).
The PSD Soldiers conducted hot and cold load training with a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, a training method in which cold means the helicopters are not running and hot means the engines are running and the rotors are turning, to better prepare themselves for possible deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. "I think it’s very important to have that integration of the active component and the National Guard Soldiers working together," said Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph Marino, senior enlisted adviser for the 3-142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion.
The training started with a safety briefing. The Black Hawk crew instructed the team on how to properly use a four-point safety harness, which was new to some of the Soldiers unfamiliar with helicopters.
Soldiers also were instructed on the safest way to approach and depart the helicopter while the rotors are spinning, as well where the safest place to point their weapons while inside.
Once the PSD Soldiers were comfortable with the helicopter, they were able to start conducting cold load training operations. They practiced movement drills from their Humvees to the helicopter and back while protecting a VIP. The National Guardsmen informed the team that hand signals are more effective when the helicopter is running than trying to yell over the roar of the rotors. Soldiers conducted movement drills until all of the team members felt confident in their duties. While the PSD Soldiers took a quick lunch break, the National Guardsmen went and refueled the helicopter for the second half of the exercise.
"This training is really good for us since we’ll actually be doing this down range," said Sgt. Sergio Jiron, a PSD team leader assigned to 511th Military Police Company. As soon as the Black Hawk crew chief inspected the helicopter one last time, he gave the pilots the thumbs-up to bring the aircraft to life.
With the helicopter’s engines blaring and rotors spinning, the team prepared to conduct the hot portion of their training. They assumed their positions in their respective Humvees. Once given the signal to move the VIP to the helicopter, they advanced quickly with fluid motion and precise execution. The long morning of training paid off for the team. After Soldiers were secured inside the helicopter, they signaled the team leader, letting him know they were ready. Within seconds, the VIP was airborne and completely protected by the PSD. Now the only thing anyone could do was enjoy the flight, which was about 25 minutes long. This is where the pilots were able to incorporate their portion of the exercise. They climbed high in the sky, until suddenly they dove toward the ground at an incredible speed, leveling the helicopter out just above the treetops. The pilots practiced a flight mode called nap of the earth, which means low-level contoured flight over the earth surface.
The crew chief gave the PSD team leader a two-minute warning to alert his team of the time before the helicopter landed. Once all three wheels touched ground, the PSD moved flawlessly from the helicopter and escorted the VIP to the awaiting Humvees.
"You can only train with office chairs set up in a hallway so much before you lose the training effect," said Sgt. 1st Class Nathaniel Gonzales, PSD noncommissioned officer in charge assigned to the 511th MP Company. "It’s good to be able to use an actual aircraft. That is going to give us all the value in the world."