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Fort Wainwright team a “one man band” in sending up supplies by air

Post by Adam Ashton / The News Tribune on March 25, 2012 at 11:00 am with No Comments »
March 25, 2012 11:00 am
An Afghan soldier in training joins the hook-up team from the 1st Brigade, 24th Infantry Regiment out of Fort Wainwright, Alaska, in attaching a sling load to a hovering CH-47 Chinook helicopter on FOB Apache on the edge of Qalat, Afghanistan. Peter Haley / Staff photographer

How do you keep an army supplied in mountainous terrain used as supply lines for enemy insurgents?

More or less like you see there in Peter Haley’s image above, albeit with a lot of help from the Air Force’s big cargo jets.

This crew from Fort Wainwright, Alaska notched its 400th injury-free helicopter sling hook-up on its yearlong deployment to southern Afghanistan. They believe that’s a record dating back to Vietnam.

They’re responsible for preparing landing zones and setting up cargo lifts they can do endure a long ride hanging from a helicopter’s belly.

Staff Sgt. Rusty Bray called the team a “one-man band” that helped deliver supplies throughout the region over the past 12 months. It mentored Afghan soldiers on at least 130 of those connections, he said.

Two Afghans participated in today’s deliveries. One hooked the crucial cargo sling to the Chinook; another mostly observed the Wainwright team preparing loads for their airlifts. U.S. forces in this area aim to turn over some of their bases to Afghan control, and the Afghan army might come to depend on air deliveries like the ones that took place today, Bray said.

Pfc. Alex Mather of the hook-up team chains a vehicle to a palate in preparation for it's being slung form a CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
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