BELTON, Texas – Helicopter pilots entering the Army receive
extensive training during their more than one year tenure in flight
school, where they learn not only how to fly, but how to survive and
evade capture if stranded in enemy territory.
U.S. Soldiers with Delta Company, 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, depart via boat to begin their water egress training during Operation Gun Rescue at Belton Lake in Fort Hood, Texas, May 8, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Christopher Calvert)
To add upon this initial
instruction, members of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade
conducted water egress training near Belton Lake for rotary
wing pilots and flight personnel, May 6 through May 8, 2013.
Dubbed “Operation Gun Rescue,” the three-day event was
spearheaded by the 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion,
227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB, and trained more than 100
“Warriors” on how to properly escape water by mounting a
hoist dropped by a UH-60 Black Hawk.
simulates what a ‘fallen angel' [pilot] should do after
surviving a crash in the water in order to get rescued,”
said Maj. Brian Hummel, operations officer for 4-227th and
Tamaqua, Pa. native. “This is an exceptional exercise that
will take soldiers out of their comfort zone to build
confidence in their equipment and themselves.”
the training, troops strengthened their rescue and swimming
skills while also building capacity, Hummel said.
“We've been executing training day and night to learn new
tactics, techniques and procedures to ensure our soldiers
are fully prepared for the mission at hand,” Hummel said.
The amount of collaboration between units within the
1st ACB and other branches of service to make the exercise
happen was impressive, Hummel said.
together across the battalions, as well as trained with
members of the Coast Guard, who are the subject matter
experts in flying over water,” Hummel explained. “They
taught our Black Hawk pilots how to better hover over water,
as well as several other crucial skills which are vital when
performing these types of rescue missions.”
pilots without a combat deployment under their belt, the
training offered unique insight into some of the hazards
they may face.
“This is the first time I, and most
pilots, have actually conducted this training,” said 1st Lt.
Kenny Friede, an AH-64D attack pilot with Company C, 4-227th
and Edina, Minn. native. “We've performed overwater training
before on the simulator, but it doesn't compare to the
As the training came to a close,
Friede admitted that although he was nervous about being
dunked in the water after prior experiences, the training
helped shake out his fears and build esprit de corps among
the more than 100 1st ACB who completed the exercise.
“The confidence and familiarity this training builds is
amazing,” said Friede. “It was also a lot of fun, as you
really got blasted by the rotor splash and had to learn to
turn your back to the wind and swim. Everyone felt good when
they were done. Being confident over the water in the first
place is so important, and this helped get the job done.”
By U.S. Army Sgt. Christopher Calvert
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