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Legionnaires overcome difficult challenges to secure CH-47

October 10, 2012

By Sgt. Ryan Hohman

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A CH-47 helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in the Arghandab district in southern Afghanistan Aug. 12 when the helicopter suffered from mechanical errors.

The 2nd Battalion, 1st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, responsible for the Arghandab district in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, was tasked with recovering the helicopter.

The location of the landing added many complications to the recovery of the helicopter requiring the attention of a well trained and well equipped group of soldiers to oversee the recovery.

"Due to the location of the craft, [we] were unable to use what we would typically use to recover the craft," said 2nd Lt. Stephen Leverkuhn, who serves as a platoon leader with C Company, 2-1 IN. This was a very significant problem with very limited options."

Soldiers with the 209th Aviation Support Battalion, 25th Combat Aviation Brigade were flown in to make the initial assessment.

"When we landed we sent out our initial assessment team to look at what we could do to accomplish the mission of recovering the aircraft," said Staff Sgt. Cain Hennings, who serves as a section chief with the 209th ASB. "Once the assessment was made we began to prepare the aircraft."

Soldiers with the 209th prepped the CH-47 by removing all of the broken pieces and lightening the load of the aircraft.

"We wanted to strip down as much weight as you can possibly get off of the aircraft so that it would be easier to move," said Sgt. Anthony Miller, who serves as a CH-47 section chief with the 209th ASB.

Once the aircraft was prepared for transportation, the Logistical Support Team with the 2-1 IN was sent to recover the helicopter because of its unique equipment and training for such challenging operations.

"We wanted the [chance] to try such an unconventional and difficult recovery," said 1st Lt. Michael Dutile, who serves as the officer in charge of the LST. "We jumped at the opportunity to attempt the recovery, knowing every aspect would be a challenge.

The LST was tasked with using their stryker recovery system to retrieve the aircraft.

With this system they were able to navigate to the site and tow the aircraft back to the nearest U.S. Army base.

The SRS has never been used in such a manner by the LST, which required the soldiers to overcome obstacles they have never experienced.

The soldiers were faced with multiple challenges during the operation, to include the sheer size of the aircraft in comparison to the stryker recovery system trailer and locating points on the aircraft strong enough to attach chains and straps to tie the aircraft down, said Dutile.

Despite these challenges, the soldiers with the LST were able to come together and accomplish the mission.

"Working as a team, adapting and overcoming, is part of our nature and this recovery was no different," said Dutile.

The LST's ability to adapt and work with their counterparts on the ground, led to the accomplishment of a task never before attempted.

"Taking into consideration the terrain along the route, equipment utilized, and how quickly the aircraft was secured, load tested and delivered, this was a phenomenal accomplishment," said Dutile. "This is something that I believe is far outside the scope of duties for a recovery operator and I could not be more pleased and privileged to serve alongside these soldiers."

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