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NEWS | Dec. 8, 2020

New York National Guard conducts sling-load training

By Sgt. Sebastian Rothwyn New York National Guard

CAMP SMITH, N.Y. – Eleven New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 145th Support Maintenance Company and six Soldiers assigned to Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, conducted sling-load training on UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters in Ronkonkoma in preparation for combat and emergency response.

Hurricanes and tornadoes have devastated towns and roadways in the past, cutting off ground access to necessities such as food, water and medical care. Sling-load operations allow for the quick deployment of supplies during combat or to areas that are geographically difficult to reach, said Sgt. 1st Class Zhifeng Liao, the readiness noncommissioned officer for the 145th.

“This training prepares our Soldiers to be ready to deploy urgent supplies needed during natural disasters or on the battlefield,” Liao said.

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Scott Specht and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Marques Martins, Black Hawk pilots assigned to 142nd Aviation, picked up maintenance Soldiers from the Staten Island armory and flew them to Ronkonkoma for the training on Nov. 24.

Non-aviation units, such as the 145th, must request air missions to train with aviation companies. Without these requests, aviation crews must complete their training on their own, which means less time training to proficiency, Specht said.

Nine of the maintenance Soldiers experienced the Black Hawk flight and sling-load training for the first time.

“This was exciting for me because it was the first time in my three years enlisted that I’ve seen a helicopter land on the front lawn of our armory,” said Spc. Tenzin Tashi, a wheeled vehicle mechanic assigned to the 145th.

Two Soldiers from Bravo Company guided 145th maintenance Soldiers through the basics.

Sgt. 1st Class Amy Klemm, Bravo Company’s readiness NCO, taught sling-load basics to the maintenance Soldiers who learned to properly identify and use the equipment to hook up the load to the helicopter.

“It was great that they came in prior to the mission to do some hands-on learning,” said Klemm. “It really helped create a successful training event.”

On the airfield, Spc. Arthur Allen, the crew chief who helped guide the Soldiers doing the hookup procedure, explained the benefits of having the maintenance Soldiers there.

“With the 145th doing the hookups and signaling, our crews were able to spend more time training with the aircraft,” Allen said.

Each Soldier doing the hookup overcame the challenge of getting the loop of the sling on the helicopter’s hook while it hovered less than four feet above them with a force of more than 30 mph winds.

Pfc. Shosha-Gay Forbes, an automated logistical specialist assigned to the 145th, completed her first sling load.

“The scariest part was the helicopter hovering above you and the winds pushing you away,” Forbes said. “But now that’s over, I’m confident I can do this whenever needed.”