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Renegades Work With USS Mount Vernon During Northern Edge 2003

Story Number: NNS030313-06
Release Date: 3/13/2003 1:15:00 PM

By Army Pfc. Kristin Akers, Alaskan Command Public Affairs

VALDEZ, Alaska (NNS) -- Among the many challenges military members face during a joint exercise like Northern Edge 2003 is the challenge of working with a sister service and overcoming the differences between methods of operation.

Aviators from the "Renegades" of 4th Battalion, 123rd Aviation Regiment (4-123), Fort Wainwright, worked hand-in-hand with the crew of USS Mount Vernon (LSD 39) to earn their deck-landing qualifications (DLQ) with their UH-60 Black Hawks and CH-47 Chinooks aboard the ship.

In order to successfully qualify for deck landings, pilots must safely land their helicopter five times on a moving Navy ship, said Capt. Abrahm Dimarco, assistant training officer for the Renegades.

It is difficult to land an aircraft while the ship is moving, because the deck rocks back and forth, said Dimarco. The deck's small size and shifting winds are also a concern for pilots.

With all these variables, DLQs are hard to duplicate, especially for the 4-123.

Stationed in Alaska, the Renegades don't have a lot of opportunities for deck-landing qualifications, Dimarco said. The joint environment of Northern Edge allows the unit to use the Navy's resources to qualify.

"The Navy doesn't bring ships up [to Alaska] often," said Dimarco. "This exercise is one of the few chances we get."

The annual qualification is important, because it prepares military members for real-world operations, he said. Deck landing is not a standard requirement, but rather an additional skill for pilots.

It is often required for aviators to fly out to Navy ships to transport supplies during deployment, Dimarco said. It's also a useful way for the unit to deploy from Alaska, because it can ship out along with its aircraft on a Navy ship instead of having the helicopters transported to them.

There are 50 Renegade personnel up for qualifications during the exercise. Prior to this deployment, they prepared through training at Fort Wainwright.

"Before landing, these soldiers must have an extensive academic training," he said.

Their training covered radio procedures, hand and arm signals, light signals and how to use miniscule scuba tanks to exit an aircraft under water. Soldiers studied the Navy's signals and signs, because flight deck communications between the Army and Navy differs, Dimarco said.

After the academic portion of their training, pilots went through a field deck landing. The Renegades practiced five simulated deck landings on a mock-up deck-landing pad on the flight line at Fort Wainwright.

The opportunity to satisfy the annual qualifications was not only beneficial for the Renegades, but was also beneficial for the crew on Mount Vernon.

The Navy works with the Marines frequently but not with the Army, said Lt. j. g. Courtney Parker, combat information center officer of Mount Vernon. Working with the Army fosters the crew's training.

"This is a tremendous experience for the deck crew," she said.

Different services have different aircraft, said Yeoman 3rd Class Joe Salcido. Working with the Army exposed him to a variety of helicopters and their blade sizes, he said.

"Different aircraft require different preparation and tie-down procedures."

During exercises like this, military members learn how to work with each other, despite their differences.

"We don't get to do joint operations often," said Maj. Cameron Moose, training officer for the Renegades. "So this is a great training opportunity."

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