Pa. Guard Halts Aviation Activity to Focus on Safety

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Story by CPT Travis Mueller on 04/23/2018
HARRISBURG, Pa -- Soldiers with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 28th Expeditionary Combat Aviation Brigade participated in Safety Stand-down 2018 at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel here April 21, 2018.

28th ECAB aviation crews joined other aviators across the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, including flight operations personnel, air traffic controllers and unmanned aerial system crews, to re-focus themselves on safety and survival.

The 28th ECAB halted usual training activities to ensure maximum attendance. Over 450 soldiers attended the event, which featured presentations from industry experts as well as leaders within the Pa. Guard.

"The safety and welfare of our soldiers are paramount to the 28th ECAB," said Lt. Col. Howard Lloyd, commander of the 28th ECAB. "Our soldiers are professional, highly trained and can accomplish very complex missions. However, we want to accomplish those missions safely so that when they are complete we can go home to our families."

The Safety Stand-down event, while held annually, comes at a time with a concerning uptick in aviation-related accidents across the United States military.

"What we do is inherently risky and we send our condolences to those personally affected by the recent tragic incidents in our military aviation community," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Joe Sandbakken, 28th ECAB safety officer. "We must learn from those incidents and pass those lessons on to our soldiers. Communication is key, and events like Safety Stand-down help us pass on those lessons."

The Pa. Guard had no serious aviation incidents in the past year but, according to Sandbakken, it is important to take time out to re-focus everyone on safety and to avoid complacency.

"We try to review accidents and trends across the Army and other services in an effort to prevent similar occurrences," said Sandbakken.

The guest speakers at the event were:
- Dr. Leonard Wong- U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks
- Boyd Tackett- multiple air accident survivor, Killeen, Texas
- Maj. Travis Easterling- U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center, Fort Rucker, Alabama.

Speakers from the 28th ECAB were 1st Lt. Ashley Bowser and Capt. Amber Diaz, both physician assistants.

Other speakers from the Pa. Guard were Col. Robert Allison, State Army Aviation Officer, and Lt. Col. Brian Harrity, physician assistant with the Eastern ARNG Aviation Training Site.


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