Simulated downed aircraft puts Nevada Guard to the test |

Simulated downed aircraft puts Nevada Guard to the test

Spc. James Pierce
106th Public Affairs Detachment
A soldier from Det. 1 B Company 1-189th works to prepare a Chinook helicopter for flight Jan. 10 2015 in order to execute what soldiers believed was a real world rescue mission. The exercise was a drill in order to test the units' emergency preparedness.
Photo by Spc. James Pierce |

Two Nevada Army National Guard Aviation units recently conducted an integrated training mission, in order to test the unit’s ability to respond to emergencies in a timely manner.

The junior leadership of Det. 1 C Company 1-168th and B Company 1-189th General Support Aviation Battalion were surprised by a notification of a crashed plane in the mountainous region north of Carson City and given instructions to evacuate injured passengers. Both units had deployed to Afghanistan in the last two years, so the soldiers were ready for the mission and reacted quickly. Only the most senior members knew of the true circumstances of the mission. There was not a downed plane; the soldiers were being tested on how quickly they could react.

“It definitely caught me off guard but it was also exciting,” said 1st Lt. Nigel Harrison, a platoon leader for Det. 1 C. Company. 1-168th GSAB. “Everything that we did overseas was coming into play.”

It was not until the helicopters were off the ground that soldiers were finally informed of the true nature of the mission.

“I had mixed feelings. I was happy that there wasn’t anyone hurt. But I was also disappointed because I think it would have been an awesome experience for the 1-168th to help people,” said Harrison.

Once on site, medics performed life saving aid on training dummies just as they would on a real casualty while transporting them by helicopter back to the Army Aviation Support Facility here.

Both company commanders had called in sick; however, they were out at the pickup site ready to evaluate. Their absence left the platoon leaders in charge of the operation. From start to finish, the mission was completed within three hours.

“It was good being able to do an exercise like this and see the younger pilots and crew members all be able to jump through and make it happen in a relatively short time,” said 1st Lt. Craig Soule, a platoon leader in Det. 1 C. Company 1-168th GSAB.

In the end, the mission challenged the soldiers and the leadership to evaluate their emergency mission capabilities. Having recently come home from deployment, soldiers have not had many chances to test their skills.

“We’ve almost been home a year now and some of us had been questioning if we were where we need to be to operate like we did when we were deployed, and today I think we proved that we still are,” said Harrison.

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