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2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation

As of April 1998 approximately 400 soldiers from the 983rd Engineer Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve in Ohio, and the 2-149th Aviation Battalion, Texas Army National Guard, were participating in Exercise NEW HORIZONS 98 EL SALVADOR. This operation is an engineer readiness training exercise designed to enhance participating U.S. Army Reserve units' mission essential task list skills while contributing to the improvement of the El Salvadoran infrastructure. Soldiers were constructing clinics, schools, wells and roads throughout the country.

Texas Army National Guard members processed into the 4th Infantry Division's 1st Brigade Combat Team 12 June 1999, making them the first National Guard soldiers to be integrated into a peacetime active duty division. Two entire units -- Company A, 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation, and Battery B, 2nd Battalion, 133rd Field Artillery (MLRS), also integrated into the division in 1999. Those units are dual-mission units that will have drills and annual training in the National Guard as well as training with the 4th Infantry Division. Their mission is with 4th ID. A total of just over 200 Texas Guard members became multi-component soldiers in 1999.

Crews from the Guard's 2nd Battalion, 149th Aviation and 124th Cavalry provided helicopter support for two consecutive days in June 2001 for a joint water-rescue training exercise under the direction of the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season. With floods and flash floods being a leading cause of weather-related deaths in Texas, water rescue training is a concern for state agencies in charge of rescue operations.

Hurricanes in Texas have been recorded to drop up to 46 inches of rain within three or four days, and, ironically, the weaker a storm is, the more potential it has to produce heavy rains and catastrophic flooding. With such a large amount of rain hitting an area, rescuers need to get in quickly to aid stranded citizens. With 17 assigned Black Hawks, the National Guard can play an important role in providing the agility needed for this type of crisis.

Rescue teams deployed with the helicopter, and practiced loading and unloading techniques, followed by mock rescues in rapid moving water. Other rescuers from Austin-Travis County Shock Trauma Air Rescue (STAR) Flight dangled below the helicopter on 70-foot ropes, providing hands-on extraction of stranded people from trees and remote locations. They also practiced rescuing a man stranded on top of his vehicle. All of the scenarios were based on actual rescues from previous years.

The main training group was Texas Task Force One, Urban Search and Rescue. The task force was started in 1997 after TEEX realized the possibility of something like the Oklahoma City bombing happening in Texas. Their previous training came together in this exercise and was tested at full speed to see if it really worked.

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