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NY National Guard Aviation soldiers test aerial gunnery skills at Fort Drum
Story by Eric Durr on 08/01/2019
FORT DRUM, NY (07/24/2019) Soldiers assigned to Alpha and Bravo companies of the 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation Regiment tested their abilities to engage targets from a hovering helicopter during annual training at Fort Drum on July 24.
Aerial gunnery is an annual training requirement, but also a highlight of annual training for the air assault battalion’s crew chiefs and other enlisted aircrew. Its fun the Soldiers said.
“The aerial gunnery is our capstone training event, but it’s also the best time of the year to be on one of these crews,” said Staff Sergeant Matthew Cordaro, the non-commissioned officer in charge of gunnery training.
“You get to fire these weapons, boost morale, build camaraderie, it’s the most fun event of the year. We are lucky it is an annual requirement, because we view it as something we get to do, not something we have to do,” he added.
“It’s one of the most important tasks of the year for the crews,” explained Capt. Salvatore Garcia, the officer in charge of gunnery this year.
It may be fun for the Soldiers, but the exercise helps increase the cohesion of the crews,” he added.
Training started with Soldiers firing the 240 B machine gun that they use in the air from a bipod on the ground.
That familiarizes the Soldiers with the weapons, Cordaro said.
The next step is to get in the air and engage targets on the ground. That involves the gunners working with the helicopters pilots to make sure they are in the right location to hit.
When the sun went down the aviation Soldiers were in the air again, engaging targets using night vision devices.
This year Soldiers from Bravo Company, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation, who fly the Ch-47 Chinook, joined the UH-60 Soldiers in conducting gunnery.
Soldiers from each unit got to fire the others weapons from the others helicopter. In the past each unit has conducted gunnery separately.
Training jointly gave Soldiers from each unit more experience, Garcia said.
Story by Sgt. Matthew Gunther, Joint Force Headquarters- NY