664th Ordnance conducts sling load training

Story by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, Public Affairs Officer, 13th SC(E)
Photos by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley and Staff Sgt. Joel Gibson, Public Affairs Officers, 13th SC(E)

Fort Hood, Texas —Soldiers of the 664th Ordnance Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade (Provisional), 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), practiced lifting a humvee, a trailer of simulated ammunition, and a generator with Blackhawk helicopters from 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Combat Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, during sling load training near Belton Lake here , Feb. 25.

Sling load operations, transporting equipment via sling under a helicopter, are a major part of 664th’s mission along with tactical firefighting and bulldozer operations.

The training mission started with 1st Cavalry Apache helicopters flying low over an open field to secure the area followed by 664th Soldiers establishing a security perimeter, just like they would in a combat scenario. The Soldiers then took turns preparing different pieces of equipment and attaching the sling load rigging to a helicopter hovering only a few feet above their heads. Other Soldiers positioned further away used hand and arm signals to help direct the pilots. After the Soldiers retreated to a safe distance, the helicopter lifted the equipment, flew around, and returned it.

“Soldiers love the hands on,” 1st Sgt. Hubert Couch, the company’s senior enlisted personnel said. “It’s good to do the training so when they’re in theater they’re proficient.”

For many of the 664th Soldiers, the training was the first time since Air Assault school they had the opportunity to practice sling load operations.

“I like training air assault because you don’t get to do it very often,” Albert Manzanares, a 664th firefighter said. “We don’t get to sling load everyday at the fire station.”

2nd Lt. Jorge Ortiz, the platoon leader for 1st Magazine, 664th, said the exercise went very smoothly because of the focus on preparation and training that went into the event. He explained that normally sling load teams have a minimum of two Soldiers. One Soldier hooks the large loop attached to the rigging fastened to the equipment to a hook on the bottom of the helicopter. A second Soldier releases static electricity caused by the friction of the helicopter’s blades with the air and physically supports the first Soldier against helicopter’s strong downward wind. For safety and to maximize the training potential, the 664th’s sling load teams were larger, Ortiz said.

“It raises the morale of the Soldiers,” Ortiz said of the exercise.

The company’s commander, Capt. Tishaun Wilson, said it is important to have the ability to sling load equipment and supplies while deployed. He gave the example of Soldiers in combat in a remote area on hilltop where it was impractical to reach them with supplies any other way.

According to Wilson, the exercise was also important because the company may be taking over Fort Hood’s ammunition Supply Point sometime in the near future.

 

news photoSpc. Albert Manzanares, a 664th Ordnance Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) firefighter, gives a 1st Cavalry helicopter the signal to lift a sling-loaded humvee during the company’s sling load training near Belton Lake here, Feb. 25. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 13th SC(E) public affairs)

 

news photoSoldiers of the 664th Ordnance Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), run to a safe distance after sling-loading a humvee to a Blackhawk helicopter during the company’s sling load training near Belton Lake here, Feb. 25. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 13th SC(E) public affairs)

 

news photoSgt. Bruce Pinson, a 664th Ordnance Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), assistant section chief, checks to make sure Soldiers are safely clear as Blackhawk helicopter flies off with a humvee during the company’s sling load training near Belton Lake here, Feb. 25. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 13th SC(E) public affairs)

 

news photoSpc. Albert Manzanares, a 664th Ordnance Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) firefighter, watches a 1st Cavalry Blackhawk helicopter carry a sling-loaded humvee during the company’s sling load training near Belton Lake here, Feb. 25. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 13th SC(E) public affairs)

 

news photoSpc. Albert Manzanares, a 664th Ordnance Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) firefighter, gives a 1st Cavalry helicopter the signal leave with a sling-loaded humvee during the company’s sling load training near Belton Lake here, Feb. 25. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew C. Cooley, 13th SC(E) public affairs)

 

news photoA 3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation Combat Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Blackhawk helicopter flies around with a sling loaded humvee during sling load training with 664th Ordnance Company, 180th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), near Belton Lake here, Feb. 25. (US Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joel Gibson, 13th SC(E) public affairs)