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NEWS | Aug. 14, 2012

Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers fast rope into training

By Army Sgt. David Bolton 1133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

ARTEMUS, Ky. - Artillery simulators, grenades, convoy attacks, casualty evacuations and fast roping from UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were all part of the training that Soldiers of the Kentucky Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment experienced at the Harold L. Disney Training Center outside Barbourville, Ky.

"A lot of these guys are new recruits fresh out of basic, so it's good training for them," said Sgt. 1st Class Dennis Bumgardner, with B Company, 1st Bn., 149th Inf. Regt.

The training these Soldiers received was not just to improve their skills in various fieldcrafts, but also to prepare them for stressful combat situations.

"We want these guys to get a feeling of what combat is like," said Spc. Thomas D. Gross, an indirect-fire infantryman and acting trainer with Company A, 1st Bn., 149th Inf. Regt. "Being here lets us spend more time with the new guys and gives us a chance to train them to be comfortable under stress."

Adding to the stress, daily rain showers kept the training areas constantly muddy. Grass, mud, and water covered their uniforms as the Soldiers crawled under barbed-wire obstacles, ran through the soggy underbrush and dangled from ropes in the cloudy skies.

To enhance their training, Soldiers from another Kentucky Army Guard unit—the 2nd Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment—augmented the infantry Soldiers by providing the aircraft and aerial support for casualty evacuations and fast rope insertions and extractions, which for many Soldiers added to the excitement of the training and brought it all together.

"The training gets us where we need to be," said Army Pfc. Markus W. Higgs, an infantryman with B Co., 1st Bn., 149th Inf. Regt. "It's nice to be able to get a sense of the heat of the moment."