I have written a little bit about what I do currently, as a part of the Brigade’s Reconnaissance, Surveillance, and Target Acquisition (RSTA) Squadron. It’s been my experience as an officer, but today I would like to share what it was like working in the aviation battalion in my state. It is where I spent 7 years, and all of my enlisted days.
The aviation battalion is comprised of HHC 2-641 AVN, A (-) 641 AVN, B 1-168 AVN, C 7-158 AVN, 1/C 1-112 AVN, 1/D 7-158 AVN, 1/E 7-158 AVN, and Detachment 47 OSA. That all sounds like a lot, so let me break it down for you. HHC is the command and control for the battalion. A (-) is the C-23 Sherpa unit (which the Army has recently retired), B Company is the heavy lift unit, which is comprised of the CH-47D Chinook helicopter. Big Charlie (as we call C 7-158) is the medevac unit, with UH-60M and UH-60L Blackhawk helicopters, while the detachments of D and E Companies are the maintenance and refueling detachments. Little Charlie (Det 1, 112) is the counterdrug unit, with UH-72A Lakota helicopters. Det 47 is the C-12 Huron detachment.
A new Soldier can get overwhelmed and confused, especially with each unit having a different regimental affiliation. On top of the battalion structure, there are two full time Army Aviation Support Facilities in the state, which are where the technicians work and generally where the units meet for drill. One airfield primarily houses the Blackhawks, Huron, Lakota, while the other facility houses the Chinooks and the UAV platoon from the 41st IBCT. The Sherpas were housed at a nearby Air National Guard base.
Having so many units doing so many different things means that one unit was always deploying somewhere, or tasked out for stateside missions. Aviation is a very rewarding mission, no matter which unit you belong to. Each unit has enlisted positions, a copious amount of warrant officer positions, and more RLO positions than traditional line units. As a result, I became very comfortable working with officers, and was used to seeing them and interacting with them. Our airplanes were always flying someone from the state government or TAG staff around, our helicopters regularly supported fire season and search missions, and our Chinooks would take the Air Force para-rescue (PJ) out for training missions.
I learned more about the intricacies of the battalion after I started working full time, but before that, all I knew is that we were always staying prepared for real life missions. There were several drill weekends or ATs where we would be getting ready to release, and a search mission would be given to us. My unit always had a first up and second up team that was on call for these missions, and since I was ops, I would just volunteer to take the call and stay through. Before the doctrine changed, we would also use our Lima models to fly passengers (think: Governor, TAG, etc), and it seemed like flight requests were always coming in. We also supported a lot of static displays at schools or the state capitol.
In a nutshell, my experience working in the aviation battalion was busy, fulfilling, fun and special. I think it was the best experience I could have had, and I am thankful that I was put into that unit. There are several MOS options, and I would implore any of you who are interested to look into it. The enlisted jobs are great, even if you can’t or don’t want to fly. Everyone has a part in making the mission a success.
What are your experiences with Army Aviation? Leave a comment below to share your experience.