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NEWS | April 11, 2024

Army, Air Force Team up to Load Helicopters at Shaw AFB

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

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. - U.S. Army and Air Force units worked together to load two U.S. Army AH-64E Apache Guardian helicopters onto a C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft at Shaw Air Force Base March 21-22.

The 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 prepared and loaded onto the Super Galaxy assigned to the 337th Airlift Squadron from Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts.

“Port Dawgs” — 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron air transportation specialists—helped load the aircraft, while other units across Shaw AFB helped ensure 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 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 to the training area in Florida to participate 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.”



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