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U.S. Air Force and Army team up to load helicopters at Shaw

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kelsey Owen
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Army and Air Force units came together to perform a historic first at Shaw Air Force Base on March 21 - 22.

Two U.S. Army AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters assigned to the 1-151st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, South Carolina Army National Guard, landed at Shaw AFB on the first day, and on the second day were then prepared and loaded onto a C-5M Super Galaxy assigned to the 337th Airlift Squadron from Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts.

20th Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation specialist “Port Dawgs” helped with the loading of the aircraft, while other units across Shaw AFB had a hand in ensuring mission success. From 20th Operations Support Squadron airfield management to 20th LRS petroleum, oil and lubricant Airmen who assisted with defueling the aircraft, it was a multi-faceted team effort.

“It’s a special exercise for us, getting a C-5 willing to come meet us out here at Shaw,” said Capt. James Smith, 1-151st ARB B-Company commander. “Getting the equipment, all the personnel and the different external entities to support this training has been integral for us to update our currency, get us recency of training, and - by the end of this - be proficient in this task to then go on and execute well moving forward.”

Once the aircraft were loaded, they were flown down to the training area in Florida, where they would take part in a joint forcible entry land and air operations exercise.

“With this movement, we’re really hoping to focus on the logistical piece,” said Smith. “For a lot of training exercises, most of the focus is on live-fire gunnery between armament, maintenance and the aerial effort; the logistical piece is not something we train all the time. Integrating that into this weekend’s exercise is going to buy us a lot of capital going forward.”

The two-day process marked the first time U.S. Army AH-64Es were loaded into a C-5M at Shaw Air Force Base. McEntire Joint National Guard Base, the home of the 1-151st ARB, requested Shaw’s support due to runway renovations occurring at that time.

“One phone call to [Chief Master Sgt. Jennifer Herr, 20th OSS airfield manager] and the puzzle pieces started falling into place,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ross O’Donnell, 1-151st ARB B-Company AH-64E instructor pilot and instrument flight examiner.

Airmen and Soldiers from all three units worked together to load the helicopters as the weather worsened, but even the chilling rain couldn’t dampen the spirit of teamwork.

“Working with sister services like the Army is crucial for operations like this because it enables seamless collaboration and integration of resources, expertise and capabilities,” said Senior Airman Eric Davis, 20th LRS air transportation journeyman. “The collaboration between the Air Force and Army may have presented challenges, but leveraging prior experience and effective communication channels facilitated a smooth process. Any difficulties encountered during the operation served as valuable learning opportunities for future joint operations.”