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CAB Chinooks sustain the force

By Sgt. 1st Class Reginald Rogers

CAMP TAJI, Iraq (Army News Service, April 24, 2006) – To Soldiers on the front lines in Iraq, the delivery of supplies is critical to sustaining a force spread over 17,000 square miles.

The 4th Infantry Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade CH-47 Chinook helicopters have become a major factor in ensuring repair parts, mail and other much-needed materiel reach its intended destinations.

To date, CAB aircraft have delivered more than 7.7 million pounds of cargo and more than 60,800 passengers to locations throughout Iraq since taking over Multi-National Division – Baghdad’s aviation mission four months ago. Of these passengers, more than 40,000 have traveled aboard the brigade’s CH-47 Chinooks.

The Chinooks are assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, and have been solely responsible for bringing a heavy-lift capability to the fight. Because the Chinook pilots have flown more than 2,000 hours and delivered more than 3,800 tons of materiel, Coalition Forces have been able to keep more than 1,400 trucks off the roadways. This action has also kept an estimated 3,541 Soldiers out of harm’s way.

“I’m really proud because of the number of people we keep off the road. It’s as important as any other mission,” explained Chief Warrant Officer 2 Brent Byington, pilot, 2-4 Avn. Regt. “We know we’re keeping those people off the roads.”

Byington said he realizes the importance of their mission, but added that loading the pallets, which can weigh as much as 7,000 pounds, is a difficult aspect of his job.

According to Sgt. Marc Lamontagne, crew chief, 2-4 Avn. Regt., the various missions include delivery of supplies and, on many occasions, travel to various forward operating bases throughout Iraq.

“The majority of our pallets were mail,” he said, about one of the missions the crew flew April 17. “Some were aircraft parts with a lot of tires. We went to Baghdad International Airport, FOB Falcon and then to FOB Rusty.”

Byington said flying at night can be more difficult than daylight missions because it requires a lot more attention to detail and stamina.

“While piloting during the day, we judge our speed by looking at the ground,” he said. “(During night missions) there is a lot more maneuvering your head around while wearing night vision goggles. It’s a lot more fatiguing.”

Byington said flying has its advantages – but like most deployed Soldiers, he said he regrets one aspect about not being on the ground.

“I miss that I’m not actually getting to see (the culture) of Iraq,” he said.

(Editor's note: Sgt. 1st Class Reginald Rogers writes for the

Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Public Affairs Office.)

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