Developing Future Leaders, Mastering The Basics During Cold-Load Air/Land Raid
Story by SGT Dustin Biven on 08/12/2019
After two weeks in the field and training through triple-digit temperatures, the Steel Warrior Battalion, 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery Regiment, 75th Field Artillery Brigade, Fort Sill, Okla., found themselves once again hard at work conducting a cold-load air/land raid at Henry Post Army Airfield July 24, 2019, with Airmen from 39th Dyess Air Force Base (AFB), Dyess, Texas.
During the cold-load air/land raid, Steel Warriors loaded an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) onto an Airforce C-130J Super Hercules from Henry Post Army Airfield to Dyess AFB.
The exercise provided the Soldiers and Airmen with hands-on experience with loading and securing artillery assets and transporting them from one location to another in order to deliver lethal precision firepower.
“Training like this greatly improves our units fighting capabilities,” said Staff Sgt. Justin Hoffman, HIMARS section chief assigned to 1-14th FA BDE. “Through repetition, we are able to master the basics, and in doing so, we minimize the amount of time we have to be on the ground executing our fire missions. Every second we shave off is important; during these missions, seconds save lives.”
Prior to take off, Soldiers and Airmen had to determine the exact weight of the vehicle and use the appropriate amount of chains to secure it in order to prevent excessive movement during flight.
“This isn’t my first time loading and securing HIMARS,” said Air Force Capt. Ryan Firl, an Airmen assigned to 39th Airlift Squadron. “With my past experience, I was able to use this opportunity to teach a new loadmaster on how to use the chains properly and provide him with tips and tricks on restraining the cargo as efficiently as possible.”
While in the air, Army Cadet Nicole Drago, a cadet enrolled at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, who is doing her Cadet Troop Leader Training (CTLT) with the Steel Warrior Battalion had a unique opportunity to view the skies from the cockpit of the C-130J directly behind the Air Force pilots.
“Having spent my CTLT time with the Steel Warrior Battalion, I’ve been able to gain an amazing insight of the field artillery branch,” said Drago. “I learned how to load some of the Army’s most lethal assets onto an aircraft. I’ve flown in an Air Force C-130 and learned more about how to coordinate with other branches to plan and execute a complex mission such as an air/land raid. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to train alongside some of the best the field artillery has to offer.”
While at Dyess AFB, junior Airmen met with the Steel Warrior Battalion and practiced loading and securing the HIMARS onto the C-130J Super Hercules.
“The purpose of this training is to teach the future loadmasters the tie-down procedures of a HIMARS and C-130J,” said Hoffman. “Taking opportunities like this to pass on our knowledge is important to the growth of our Military. One day my Soldiers will fill my shoes, when they do, I want them to be as informed and experienced as possible.”
Once the training had concluded, the Steel Warriors Battalion loaded up their HIMARS for a final time onto the C-130J and headed back to Henry Post Army Airfield.
While training the future fighting force of the Nation, the Steel Warrior Battalion continues to train in supporting worldwide contingencies as III Corps and Fort Hood’s only airmobile long-range precision fires capabilities.