By ANDREA WALES
Human Resources Command PAO
About 115 eighth-graders from East Hardin Middle School in Glendale, Ky., got a chance to climb into helicopters and humvees during a May 16 visit to Fort Knox. They were escorted by Soldiers from The Adjutant General Directorate’s Field Services Division under the U.S. Army Human Resources Command.
TAGD FSD visits this school as part of HRC’s Partners in Education program, Capt. Brandi Caver said. FSD volunteers see what the students do at school and wanted them to experience the Army firsthand.
“It’s important to know how a country was formed and founded and how it is protected,” said Mason Rothrock, 14.
The first stop was Godman Army Airfield’s historic Hangar No. 1, which is still in use by the 8th Battalion (Attack Reconnaissance), 229th Aviation Regiment, under the 11th Aviation Command, a Reserve Component command.
Aviators talked about the mission and capabilities of the AH-64 Apache and HH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
“We’re here to haul beans, bullets and troops, and hopefully spread democracy throughout the world,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Dave Mattox, making a modification of the preparedness mantra “beans, bullets and bandages.” The Black Hawk often transports wounded Soldiers. During the week when Mattox isn’t on Reserve duty, he is a Department of the Army civilian who works as a maintenance test pilot.
These helicopters have many redundant computer and communications systems so that, if one goes out, operations aren’t disrupted, Mattox said. Texting is even part of it because it is often the most expedient communications strategy. That Black Hawk is one of the first autopilot aircraft that the Army has bought.
The Apache is an attack helicopter.
“Our primary mission in Iraq was supporting troops on the ground. We were providing protection to convoys, surveillance and intelligence for Special Forces teams to make their mission and their jobs safer,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Dan Zassick, aviation mission survivability officer for Company B, 8th Bn, 229th Aviation, otherwise known as Bravo Company. “We were the guys watching their backs from the air.”
The pilots said learning about helicopters might help the students reach their potential as adults.
“Understanding how the United States goes to war and integrates aviation into the ground scheme of maneuver leads to having a better understanding of what’s at stake and why it’s important to be an engaged citizen,” said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joe Shafer, aviation mission survivability officer for Charlie Company.
After the hangar experience, the four school buses shuttled students to different stations that included a windshield tour of the installation as well as stops at a motor pool to talk to Soldiers with body armor and the Gen. George S. Patton Museum of Leadership.
At the motor pool of the 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, under the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division—the “Duke Brigade”—students scrambled into high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, commonly known as humvees. Trying on body armor definitely got a reaction from students.
“It feels like my backpack!” said Becca Ragland, 15. “With your math book, social studies book, library book, your supplies, all together it’s really heavy.”
Shane Oberdorf, 14, admired Soldiers who wear the armor.
“It seems like it’d be tiring to run around in all day,” he said. “They’ve got to be in good shape.”
Getting this Army experience dovetailed with the students’ curriculum, which included studying the American Constitution’s first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights while the stop at the Patton Museum allowed the students to learn about the importance of leadership in life.
“Even though he was highly criticized for his outspoken, aggressive leadership, he was still considered one of the most influential leaders of World War II by both Allied and Axis commanders,” said Sgt. Maj. Lucinda Ramos of TAGD.
The Fort Knox visit was deemed a success by an eighth-grader whose opinion seemed to be shared by his classmates.
“It’s educational and fun!” Rothrock said.