Aviators, Logistics Soldiers Team Up in Search for Missing Soldiers
By Spc. Nathan Hoskins, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, May. 23, 2007 With soldiers spread throughout southern Baghdad searching around the clock for their missing comrades, it comes as no surprise that they need a constant stream of supplies to keep them going.
Three U.S. soldiers have been missing since a May 12 ambush. A body found today by Iraqi police may be that of one of the missing soldiers, military officials said, but no confirmation has yet been announced.
Although the 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team "Commandos" sometimes truck supplies out to their brothers and sisters in arms, they rely mainly on the aerial assets of the 1st Cavalry Division's 1st Air Cavalry Brigade “Warriors” to get the job done, said Staff Sgt. Darren Larson, a 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, supply noncommissioned officer.
"I know everybody downrange really appreciates everything (1st ACB) is doing," he said, adding that the 1st ACB is “probably, by far, one of the biggest assets we have."
From sling-loading supplies to carrying them internally, the Warrior air crews make sure their comrades have everything they need to continue their search for the missing soldiers, said Capt. Pat Patrino, a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot and commander of Company B, 3rd "Spearhead" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment.
"We're doing raids on targets, insertions, extractions, re-supplies, emergency re-supplies, troop movement, … pretty much anything they ask for that we can do, we'll do, to include sling-loads," he said.
The Commando soldiers behind getting the supplies ready for 1st ACB to transport are from Company A, 210th Brigade Support Battalion. They understand that working quickly and effectively with their aerial partners is critical to keeping the mission going, said Capt. Anita Trepanier, commander of Company A, 210th Base Support Battalion.
"Our mission, right now, is to support the troops that are on the ground trying to find our fellow comrades with logistics support," she said.
Along with ammunition, medical supplies, food, and water, the Warriors also are transporting boats that aid the troops having to search in and around the canals, said 1st Sgt. Todd Harger, senior noncommissioned officer in Company A.
"We've pushed boats, so they can cross rivers and search the canals," he said. "Those canals, they don't look deep, but they're very deep -- in some cases, 10 to 12 feet deep."
As supplies are flown out to the troops on the ground, the troops on the ground are transported quickly to search areas or capture insurgents during hasty air assaults, Patrino said.
"It's very hasty planning. They give us some products and we go execute it as best we can. Things change on the fly," he said. "A normal air assault would be anywhere between 48 and 96 hours to plan; these are anywhere between the one- to six-hours range in terms of from planning to execution."
These missions all are done on top of the soldiers’ normal work load, Patrino added.
Trepanier said she hopes the missions continue until the soldiers are brought back.
"It says it in the Warrior Ethos, we will never leave a fallen comrade, and we are not going to leave our fellow Commandos," she said.
"There are three missing soldiers out there that we're trying to find," Patrino said, "and we're trying to do anything we can to help."
(Army Spc. Nathan Hoskins is assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade Public Affairs Office, Multinational Division Baghdad.)