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Naval and Texas Army Guard aviators join in new partnership

By Ensign Charles E. Spirtos | Texas Military Department | Oct. 21, 2020

NAVAL AIR STATION FORT WORTH JOINT RESERVE BASE, Texas – Aviators from the Texas Army National Guard conducted a familiarization flight with agency partners aboard a CH-47 Chinook helicopter on Oct. 6.

The flight brought four Chinooks to Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base to demonstrate the aircraft's capabilities to Naval personnel stationed at that facility.

The familiarization flight marked the beginning of a partnership between the leadership of NAS Fort Worth JRB; commander, Naval Facilities Engineering Command; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; and the Texas Military Department.

Commander Allen Grimes, executive officer for NAS JRB Fort Worth, said the Chinook familiarization flight gave him a concrete view of the Texas Army National Guard's aviation mission set and of what operations may look like if the Texas Guard's hangars are incorporated into the JRB.

The Sailors who participated in the flight said it was a good experience.

"I was actually very impressed with the capabilities of the Chinook. The low flying, maneuvering through the woods definitely made me feel as if I was on a mission in a movie scene. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Bianca Henderson, aviation structural mechanic safety equipment first class (AW/SW).

The adjutant general of Texas intends to modernize the Texas National Guard's aviation hangar assets. The Texas Army National Guard has been working closely with the leadership of NAS JRB FTW and NAVFAC for over three years to acquire two additional hangars intended to house CH-47 Chinooks.

The hangers include a ramp space that will allow the Texas Guard to establish a rotary wing operations and maintenance capability at the JRB.

"Moving to JRB for the Texas Army National Guard Chinooks means quicker access to training areas, [increased] ability to depart and return under more challenging weather conditions, and less restrictive airspace," said Lt. Col. Chris D. Hanna, 449th Aviation Support Battalion commander.

In addition to providing the Texas Guard with much-needed hangar space, the initiative will facilitate partnerships between the Army aviators of the Texas National Guard and the Naval aviation community.

Nurturing this partnership will benefit both services as they work to meet the intent of the National Defense Strategy, which relies on "Joint Force military advantages enabling U.S. interagency counterparts to advance U.S. influence and interests."

Once the two hangars are procured, the CFMO will engage in a nearly $6 million renovation project to expand the hangar depth to accommodate the Chinooks and add administrative and support facilities.

"We anticipate receiving the official licenses for the property before the end of 2020," said Brian Stevens, the director of planning and programming for the Texas Military Department's Construction and Facilities Management Office.

"The most important outcome from this event is the partnership that we are building to ensure we will successfully integrate the TXARNG facilities, aviation mission and personnel into the NAS JRB FTW community."