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Face of Defense: New Soldier Prepares for Deployment

By Army Sgt. Tracy R. Weeden
101st Combat Aviation Brigade

FORT POLK, La., Feb. 2, 2012 – New soldiers of the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade’s Task Force Shadow prepared for the unknown at the Joint Readiness Training Center here during January.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
A Company D, 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade soldier prepares for a convoy to a downed aircraft recovery mission at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., Jan 18, 2012. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tracy R. Weeden

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Veteran soldiers have confidence in their abilities to operate and survive a deployment, because they have done it before, while the new soldiers do not.

Army Pvt. Larry Corwin, a native of Midland, Mich., recently enlisted and has no deployment experience. He enlisted last year to become a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter maintainer, and joined Company D, 6th Battalion, 101st CAB at Fort Campbell, Ky. He is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan with Task Force Shadow.

Corwin said he wanted to be a soldier since he was a boy, and he joined the Army at age 23.

“Our new soldiers want to know that they are trained for the mission they will see while deployed,” said Army Lt. Col. Joel Aoki, battalion commander. “This is a premier training venue to allow soldiers to conduct task force operations and put them in situations that allow them to operate outside their normal duties, solving problems and allowing them to succeed.”

While the Army is careful to limit the time soldiers spend away from home due to frequent deployments, Task Force Shadow is taking advantage of this training opportunity for the benefit of every soldier.

“As a unit, we are concerned with managing the amount of time we are away from home station, which limits our time in the field,” Aoki said. “However, we focus on training based on our operational requirements.”

Corwin had the opportunity to experience deployment-style missions, preparing him and fellow untried soldiers for their upcoming deployment. He was able to participate in downed aircraft recovery missions, where helicopter maintainers venture into hostile territory to return sensitive items, equipment and aircraft to safe ground.

Corwin said he enjoyed his experience at JRTC, where he was able to gain the confidence of his leaders and trust in himself to overcome any fears he had before.

“I am really looking forward to this deployment,” he said. “I feel more prepared than before coming here.”

Corwin said he always has been fascinated with mechanics, working on cars and automobiles, and that’s why he chose to work on helicopters when he joined the Army.

While he works on helicopters on a daily basis, he added, he never had the opportunity to ride in one until he came here for deployment training.


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