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NEWS | April 23, 2024

Guard Chief Visits Pennsylvania Guard, Aviation Training Site

By Wayne Hall, Joint Force Headquarters - Pennsylvania National Guard

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. - Army Gen. Daniel R. Hokanson, chief of the National Guard Bureau, met with Pennsylvania National Guard leaders and members of the Eastern Army National Guard Aviation Training Site at Fort Indiantown Gap April 22.

While at EAATS, Hokanson presented coins to five cargo crew members to recognize them for responding to a fire in the installation’s Northern Training Area last May. The fire, which began as a controlled burn set by the Fort Indiantown Gap’s Department of Forestry, got out of control and was extinguished by the helicopter crew.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Kyle Watkins, Chief Warrant Officer 4 Matthew Koepke, Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Potter, Sgt. 1st Class Robert Prigel and Staff Sgt. Ryan Bragg flew for over three hours and dropped 18 2,000-gallon buckets of water to put the fire out.

After the presentation, Hokanson toured EAATS, where he went through UH-60 Black Hawk pilot training earlier in his career. Hokanson was fitted with a helmet and flight gear for a planned flight in a CH-47F Chinook helicopter and an orientation in the CH-47F Transportable Flight Proficiency Simulator.

“It was an honor to host CNGB at the Eastern ARNG Aviation training site to showcase our mission and our teams’ contributions to readiness across the U.S. Army Aviation enterprise and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard,” said Col. Randy Lutz, EAATS commander. “Our team of aviation professionals conducted a familiarization flight for CNGB in the TFPS and the CH-47F to demonstrate the aircraft’s capabilities in support of multi-domain operations.”

The EAATS has operated at Muir Army Airfield since 1981 and is fully accredited by The Army School System as a “Learning Institution of Excellence.” 

Training provided at the facility includes individual aircrew qualification, noncommissioned officer professional education, and enlisted military occupational and additional skill identifier training in utility and cargo rotary-wing aircraft.

“When you look at their ability to train our future Army aviators in Chinook and also the Black Hawk and many other things they do in terms of maintainers and flight instruction,“ Hokanson said, “I mean, they’re just a huge asset to the National Guard and actually to the entire Army, because we’re able to send pilots here for additional quotas or if they can’t keep up with the student flow at Fort Novosel, [Alabama].

“I was very fortunate as a young major in the Oregon National Guard to come here for the Black Hawk transition, and I will tell you the professionalism I saw there just continues today,” he said. “What a great organization!”

Hokanson also visited with senior Pennsylvania National Guard leaders, including Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, the adjutant general of Pennsylvania.

“I’ve always been impressed by the Pennsylvania National Guard,” said Hokanson, who became the 29th CNGB in August 2020. “Some of my best friends have been in the Pennsylvania National Guard, and they continue to do that under General Schindler and really the entire leadership team, and each is just a representation of what a great organization it is.”



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