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Chinook shipment a joint effort by Army, Air Force

by Corey Dahl
21st Space Wing Public Affairs

9/5/2007 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFPN) -- Members of Peterson Air Force Base helped load 12 Army CH-47 Chinook helicopters onto Air Force C-17 Globemaster IIIs during the last two weeks of August to send the choppers to support Operation Enduring Freedom. 

Airmen, Soldiers, contractors and civilian members disassembled and inspected the choppers before loading each one onto a separate C-17, the aircraft transporting the CH-47s to their new stations in Southwest Asia.

While up to four UH-60 Blackhawks can fit into a C-17, only one of the 50-foot long Chinook CH-47 helicopters can be squeezed into the C-17's 98-foot long cargo bay, a fact that made the whole project labor-intensive and time-consuming.

"Basically anytime Fort Carson is sending something overseas, it comes here," said 2nd Lt. Carolyn Griffin, the officer in charge of air terminal operations for the 21st Logistics Readiness Squadron. 

From security forces to fuel management, Peterson AFB members spent months coordinating the shipment with Fort Carson officials as well as the Army National Guard unit responsible for the CH-47.

That unit -- Det. 1, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, out of New York and Maryland -- arrived at Fort Carson earlier this summer to train at high altitude with the CH-47s. The choppers were then taken to Peterson AFB where Guardsmen and contractors disassembled them -- a process that takes between 10 and 18 hours and about 35 workers per helicopter. 

Peterson AFB members then inspected the helicopters before Guard members and contractors loaded them onto C-17s, an effort often performed in the middle of the night or very early in the morning, depending on the timing of a plane's arrival.

"A lot of people have had long hours," said Robert Schwaeble, the Peterson AFB airfield manager. "But we've got a bunch of good people here who cinched it up a notch and made it happen."

And for Army 1st Lt. Terrance Thorgramson, one of the Guard pilots deploying with the helicopters, the teamwork and coordination involved was the most amazing part of the whole effort. He said working with such a variety of people is also a good learning experience for everyone. 

"The military is getting pretty diverse now," he said. "I go anywhere and I could be working with Air Force (and the) Marines. Cooperating like this really helps prepare us for working together in the future." 

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